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I. Reply of Mr. Disraeli to the Memorial of 

Women's Suffrage, April 29, 1873 IO 3 

II. Sir Stafford Northcote's Speech, April 7th 103 

in. Mr. Joseph Cowen's Speech, June, 1884 . 104 

IV. Mr. Herbert Spencer 106 

v. Mrs. Henry Fawcett ..... 106 

vi. Women's Suffrage in the Middle Ages . . 107 
vii. Mr. Gladstone on the Women's Disabilities 

Removal Bill, May 3, 1871 . . . 108 

vni. Mr. Fawcett's Speech, Oct. 13, 1884 . . no 

ix. The Bishop of Carlisle . . . . 1 1 1 

x. The Agar-Ellis Case 112 

XI. Professor Lindsay, D.D 115 

xil. Mr. Courtney, M.P 116 

xiii. Rev. Canon Kingsley . . . . 117 
XIV. Lord John Manner's Speech, March 24, 

1884 118 

XV. Female Employment in England . . 119 

xvi. Colonel King-Harman's Speech, June, 1884 121 

INDEX . 123 



THE Parliament of 1880, prorogued and waiting only the 
final stroke of dissolution, has had, like all its pre- 
decessors, a chequered fortune. It has disappointed 
many confident expectations, but it has distinguished 
itself historically in one notable particular. It has dealt 
with the complex problems of parliamentary reform with 
an effect which for courage and completeness dwarfs the 
achievements of 1832 and 1867. It has gone far to 
reconcile the practice with the theory of the English 
constitution. Mr. Puff remarked that " where they do 
agree on the stage, their unanimity is wonderful." But 
even the omiies of the stage directions is outdone when 
Liberals and Conservatives compete for the credit of 
enfranchisement, from the moment that issue is clearly 
inevitable. The poor denizen of the Irish hovel ; the 
groom or hind for whom shelter is found as part of his 
weekly wage ; the humble cotter so needy, or it may be 
so thriftless, that he has to rely upon the Poor Law when 


sickness calls for medical aid ; the illiterate for whom an 
elaborate special process of voting has to be maintained 
all have been effectively admitted within the constitution, 
and recognized as having, equally with the wealthiest, an 
interest in the good government of the commonwealth. 
The civil servants, and even the policemen whose 
neutrality formerly was regarded as essential during the 
fierce conflicts of election timehave had their title 
admitted by the competing leaders. 

But, in the fervour of enfranchisement, one conspic- 
uous exception has been made, one glaring disability 
remains, one anomaly survives to prevent the closing of 
the current chapter of parliamentary reform. 

If it be true, that the onus of proof has properly rested 
on those who have in the past opposed enfranchisement, 
it will be conceded that this obligation rests with peculiar 
force on those who oppose the claims urged on behalf of 
persons who, satisfying all the other conditions required 
by the law, are debarred on the ground of sex alone. 

Women have to contribute equally with men to local 
and imperial taxation, though in regard to the latter they 
are denied any voice as to levying it or in its expenditure ; 
they have no exemption from the obligation to obey the 
laws, though they have no part in the making of them. In 
spite of the nonsense talked about women's sphere, it is 
true of the great majority of women as of men, that they 
who will not work neither shall they eat. They do work, 
often fettered and cruelly handicapped. Women who earn 
a separate livelihood may be counted by millions, and each 


census testifies to the fact that these numbers increase 
decade by decade at something like the rate of 30 per 
cent. Triumphing over all impediments, women have 
attained the very highest rank in art, in literature, and in 
the science of teaching. They have overcome the preju- 
dices which excluded them from the advantages of the 
Universities, and from the learned professions. In every 
form of public duty women have rendered conspicuous 
service. What an aching void would be created were it 
possible to efface the female toilers in the activities of 
temperance, religious, emigration, or reformatory work ! 
They have had official status from time immemorial in 
that they have been eligible for, and have served such 
offices as those of sheriff and churchwarden. The woman 
ratepayer has always voted for Poor Law Guardians ; 
since 1870 she has voted also for School Boards, and has 
been eligible for election on both these bodies. Since 
1867 in England, and more recently in Scotland, women 
have voted equally with men for the Town Councils ; that 
right having, however, been limited to unmarried women 
by legal ruling in England, and by the express terms of 
the statute in Scotland. Four years ago the Queen in 
Council approved of the action of the Isle of Man legis- 
lature in conferring the parliamentary suffrage there on 
female freeholders. And, lastly, in the Bill, introduced 
last year, for constituting the Metropolitan Parliament, it 
was proposed that women householders should vote for 
members of the Council, might be themselves eligible 
for election, and might even fill, if called to that post. 


the most dignified position of all in the projected govern- 
ment for London ! 

Why not ? Live we not under a constitution which 
has been interpreted and administered with amazing 
skill, resource, and fidelity, through a long period of 
unexampled national activity, and over crises which have 
shaken every other European power? Can it be said 
that there has been any want of capacity for government 
manifested during this long and eventful reign, albeit the 
ruler has been a woman ? 

If, then, the truth of this recital be admitted, if women 
have shown aptitude for vocations so diverse from that 
of ministering angels m our hospitals, or of Poor Law 
Guardians, to the discharge of the highest functions of 
the State why debar them from dropping a paper in 
the already familiar ballot-box once in three or four years 
along with the labourer who, in many thousands of 
cases, is dependent upon them for his subsistence? The 
answers to this appeal are not wanting in force, though 
sometimes lacking in the quality of fairness. How far 
they are reasonable and consequent the reader of the 
following chapters may be left to judge. It will, at any 
rate, be felt instinctively that the duty of vindicating the 
claims urged on behalf of her sex devolves properly upon 
one who has been among the foremost in bravely battling 
for their recognition. 

Not the least remarkable sign of progress in what has 
been called the Woman Question, is to be observed in 


the growth of a public sentiment in regard to the parti- 
cipation of women in certain special kinds of political 
and other public work. The contest which closed the 
electoral history of Woodstock the other day, is said to 
have been determined by the active part therein taken 
by the ladies who made their own the cause of the 
winning candidate. That this female zest for elec- 
tioneering is no modern development, is clear from 
stories which have come down to us, like that of the 
Duchess of Devonshire and of her ungrudging devotion 
to the cause of Fox in the Westminster election. These 
instances, which might be multiplied to any extent, and 
from the experiences of any period, constitute only the 
comedy of the movement. In view of the fact that 
women are to-day taking their part in the constitution of 
Primrose Leagues and of Liberal Councils, it is almost 
startling to be reminded that seventeen years only have 
passed since sober people were shocked and pained by 
the appearance of* women on public platforms as advo- 
cates of the claims of their sisterhood, and since it was 
said in Parliament that they had thereby disgraced them- 
selves and their sex. _ The change marks the revolution 
which has taken place in the tone of party manners, 
under which we have seen the tranquil decorum of 
modern methods evolved out of the violence, the horse- 
play, and the debauchery of the times of Hogarth and 
of Mr. Pickwick. Women will be naturally more and 
more disposed to avail themselves of an improved con- 
dition of things they have done so much to bring about. 


The name of Mr. Mill must ever be held in high and 
grateful regard as the pioneer of the parliamentary 
struggle for Women's Suffrage. He endeavoured to have 
" person " substituted for " man " in the Reform Act of 
1867. Subsequently an appeal was heard by the Court 
of Common Pleas from women claiming the right of 
voting in reliance on the wording of the Statute, and of 
the provision in Lord Brougham's Act, that words im- 
porting the masculine gender shall be deemed and taken 
to include the feminine unless the contrary is expressly 
provided. The Court decided adversely, however, and 
since that time the question has been repeatedly before 
Parliament, with varying fortune. The last issue was 
taken under circumstances peculiarly embarrassing. The 
then Prime Minister declared that the success of the 
motion to enfranchise women would be fatal to the 
Franchise Bill, upon the passing of which the Liberal 
party was ardently resolved, though at a later date Mr. 
Gladstone generously justified the action of those who 
disregarded his menace. The division then demon- 
strated a new phase of the movement. There had never 
been a time when it had not the support of distinguished 
Conservatives. Mr. Russell Gurney was a teller with Mr. 
Mill in 1867. Lord Beaconsfield, Lord Iddesleigh, and 
Lord John Manners long ago declared their adhesion. 1 
In the Parliament of 1874 Mr. Forsyth, Conservative 
member for Marylebone, had charge of the Bill. But in 
1883, out of 132 voting for the resolution submitted by 

1 See Appendices I, and II. 


Mr. Hugh Mason, 19 only were Conservatives. In 1884 
this number had swollen to 96. The proposed clause 
was rejected by a majority of 136, in consequence of the 
severe pressure of the Government. But there voted in 
the majority not less than 104 Liberals who had signified 
their approval of the principle contended for, of whom 
more than one-half had signed a memorial to the Prime 
Minister to the effect that no measure of parliamentary 
reform would be complete and satisfactory which did 
not recognize the just claims of duly qualified women. 
There is therefore no room to doubt that had the 
chances of parliamentary time been more favourable, 
had it been possible to have taken another division 
under conditions free from the considerations which 
weighed with these 104 " Opportunist " opponents, most 
of them would have been found true to the cause which 
in one way or another they had approved. Had two- 
thirds of the number so voted, the adverse majority of 
1884 would have disappeared. 

The cause of Women's Suffrage is thus left to be num- 
bered among the legacies which will devolve upon the 
new Parliament. Possessing their souls in patience, the 
friends of the movement will bate no jot of heart or hope. 
Conscious of the invincibility of the claim they have 
steadfastly urged, they have refrained from pressing it in 
season and out of season upon an over-burdened legisla- 
ture. But they have good reason to be satisfied with 
the signs of substantial progress which abound on every 


hand. The evidence of petitions, of public meetings, 
large and small, of popular clubs and drawing-room 
gatherings : the education movement, the impassioned 
interest in social problems, and, above all, the testimony, 
the more conclusive because often reluctant, to the price- 
less value of the service rendered by devoted women 
in every direction, all combine to make irresistible the 
demand for the removal of their political disabilities. 

To their confidence in the ultimate recognition of the 
justice of these claims may be traced the conspicuous 
moderation with which they are urged on the platform and 
in the press. Relying upon essential and abstract right, 
they have combined to secure " the Parliamentary Fran- 
chise for Women on the same conditions as it is, or may 
be, granted to men." But, in the following pages, as in 
everything which has been said and done by the principal 
friends of the English movement, this demand has been 
urged by appeals and demonstrations from experience, 
of its perfect reasonableness and expediency. In this 
respect they have been animated by the spirit which Mr. 
Mill evinced when, in commending his proposal to Parlia- 
ment, he said 

" There is an important branch of expediency called justice, and 
justice though it does not necessarily require that we should 
confer political functions on every one does require that we 
should not capriciously and without cause withhold from one what 
we give to another." 



IN discussing the 'question of "Women's Suffrage" in 
these pages, no attempt will be made to find novel 
arguments in favour of a change in the law that excludes 
women from political life, but rather an enumeration will 
be made of the more serious reasons alleged against it 
by its opponents, followed by the line of argument 
usually adopted by the friends of the movement. It 
will then be necessary to discuss the various suggestions 
made for altering the law, and to make some attempt to 
arrive at a satisfactory conclusion as to which suggestion 
it is best to support. The present state of the move- 
ment will also be touched upon, though space forbids the 
past history of so extensive an agitation being detailed. 

^The idea that women should not vote because they 
have less physical strength than men, seems extremely 
difficult to eradicate, and hardly a debate or public meet- 
ing can take place without some champion appearing to 
insist that because women are the weaker, therefore they 


are not to be considered capable of performing the duties 
of citizenship. That such an idea should have shot its 

roots down so deeply into men's minds, appears to show 
that the theory and meaning of constitutional govern- 
ment have not really, as yet, been properly grasped. 

If the rule of the strongest is after all to prevail, if 
might is really right in the end, the very existence of 
parliaments seems threatened. It is because Englishmen 
have aimed at depriving those physically the strongest of 
the power they once held and misused, that constitutional 
government has gradually been built up for the protection 
of the weak. To pick out the weakest members of the 
community and refuse them representation, seems there- 
fore entirely in contradiction of the theory of British in- 

It was at one time urged, that were it not for centuries^ 
of seclusion and sedentary occupations, women would 
physically be equal to men, and that under altered con- 
ditions they might well become so ; but their right to a ^ 
vote seems to stand on a much firmer basis, if claimed 
for the weak as well as for the strong. This is one 
of the points on which men attempt to apply a test to 
women which they do not submit to themselves, for 
whether a man be blind or lame, undersized or crippled, 
he nevertheless votes. 

\ r It is urged that women are not called upon to fight 
II for or to defend their country, that they cannot be 
" soldiers, or sailors, or policemen. 1 But how many men 
1 See Appendix III, 


in the British Isles fulfil these requirements ? Do they 
all become soldiers and sailors in order to get a vote? 
It is well known that the great mass of our defenders 
are, by the fact of their enlistment, deprived of their 

As to the police, from their constant employment at 
home, they might be expected to take an intelligent 
interest in the government of their country ; and as in 
most cases they live in their own homes, instead of 
massed together in barracks and war-ships like <;he 
soldiers and sailors, they would in a very large number 
of instances be entitled to a vote. But so jealous are 
Englishmen of the rule of the strongest being applied to 
themselves, that the police are forbidden under a very 
heavy penalty to enter the polling-booths and record 
their votes. 1 So women find they are refused votes 
because they do not, and indeed cannot, defend their 
country, and yet know that were they by disguise or 
other ruse to succeed in bearing arms, they would still 
find themselves excluded from participating in elections. 

It is to the peaceable citizen and householder who 
stays at home, but pays for the army and navy and police 
force out of his own pocket, that the vote is entrusted. 
Women therefore claim that in this respect they are duly 
qualified. But they do more. They have always con- 

1 A Bill was introduced into the House of Commons by Mr. 
Coleridge Kennard at the latter end of the Session of 1885, with 
the object of removing the police disqualification ; but it failed even 
to secure a second reading. 


sidered the nursing of the sick and wounded and dying as 
their special privilege, and would be the last to claim a 
reward for it. But when men urge their power to wound 
and slay as a reason for giving them votes, surely the 
power of women to heal and tend and restore to health 
again should not be left out of account. 

It certainly cannot be urged that women have no 
physical force, but only that it is somewhat less in 
quantity than that of men. Were it suggested that they 
should therefore have a smaller share of representation 
there would seem to be some logic in the argument; 
but when we see the vast amount of hard, toilsome 
physical work performed by women, it seems most illo- 
gical to treat them as if they had 

On the intellectual question it is difficult to speak with 
as great precision, for even men hesitate to state posi- 
tively that women are intellectually inferior to men, and 
therefore should be disfranchised. Those who do make 
this statement were certainly a much more formidable 
body twenty years ago than they are at present. Many of 
the old arguments against Women's Suffrage are becoming 
obsolete, and this question of the intellectual capacity 
of women stands undoubtedly in a very different position 
in consequence of the march of female education than it 
once did. 

And the improved education of women has extended 
through all classes. The board schools in primary 
education, the high schools in middle-class education, 


ien's colleges in the higher education, have 
all encouraged girlsto compete with boys, and~women 
with men on equal footing ; and apart from the question 
of whether women should receive the same education as 
men, they have shown in an immense number of cases 
that they can pass the same examinations and take the 
.same decrees. 1 

It must be remembered that in no sense can there be 
said to be an educational franchise in England. It is true 
that by an arrangement between the leaders of the two 
great parties, the University members of the House of 
Commons have been allowed to remain untouched by 
the Reform Bill of 1884-5, but even they are regarded 
by many as most anomalous. Elaborate arrangements 
are made at the polling-booths for giving effect to the 
unbiassed opinion of the illiterate voter, and in the out- 
lying portions of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, there are 
now included in the franchise large numbers of men who 
cannot speak a word of English, and who cannot read 

1 It may be interesting to give the latest instance of the educational 
attainments of women. " At the London University Matriculation, 
June, 1885, more than 1,100 candidates, male and female, entered for 
the examination. Of these 615 have been successful, and for the first 
time a lady heads the honours list, without being disqualified by age 
from receiving the exhibition of thirty pounds for two years. Two 
other ladies are among the prize receivers. In all thirty-five candi- 
dates have obtained either prizes or the number of marks qualifying 
for prizes, and eight of these are ladies. In the honours division, 
out of 136 candidates, 30 are ladies ; and of the 615 successful 
candidates, 100 are ladies out of about 150 who entered for the 


or write any language at all. Certainly the women who 
now exercise the local votes can claim to be at least 
intellectually on an equality with these. 

Again, it must be remembered, that it is not merely the 
book learning to be acquired in the silence of the study, 
that is supposed best to fit a man for the duties of 
citizenship. It is every-day intercourse of the freest kind 
with his fellow men, the general interchange of thought 
and opinion in the market and the workshop, the telling 
of grievances and the hearing of complaints, that helps a 
man to use his vote honestly for the good of the common- 
wealth and the improvement of society. And here, 
again, women are much more competent than formerly. 
They have much greater liberty to come and go ; the 
number of women earning a livelihood outside their 
homes has vastly increased ; being better educated, they 
know how to make better use of their eyes and ears ; 
hey more commonly read the newspapers and political 
amphlets and periodicals, and have greater opportunities 
f exchanging ideas and forming opinions.^/ 

There is no better test ot the consideration in which 

women are now held in the educational world, than the 

large amount of teaching that is in their hands. It is 

recognized that it is always best to entrust the teaching 

(of girls to women, and that young boys fall naturally 

) under their care also, so that the demand for well- 

j educated, well-trained, female teachers for both public 

and private schools is large and increasing. 

Another point to be remembered when considering the 


intellectual capacities of women, is the great absence in 
their case of the special incentives to study that have 
been piled up lor centuries for their more favoured 
Brothers. Prizes, scholarships, exhibitions, money rewards 
of every kind have been accumulated by public and 
private benefactors for the advancement of the boys, 
whereas in some cases even those endowments that were 
originally intended for both boys and girls alike, have 
been absorbed by the male portion of the community, 
or have disappeared altogether. 

The clever neat fingers of women specially fit them for * 
those skilled trades for which technical training is a 
necessity. Yet go into any workhouse school or institu- 
tion, where an attempt is made to teach the simpler in- 
dustries as well as book learning, and we find -there the 
boys are learning carpentering, boot-making, tailoring, or "* 
husbandry, according to their capacities and inclinations, 
while the girls are generally kept to sewing, which, how- 
ever necessary as part of a woman's training, is the worst 
paid means of earning a livelihood. 

In spite of all these disadvantages, some of which are 
slowly being remedied, and many others which it would 
be impossible to discuss here, it is readily admitted that 
the female portion of the community has advanced many 
steps towards equality with men in intellectual matters, 
and that to permanently exclude women from the fran- 
chise, on intellectual grounds only, is even less justifiable 
now than it was a quarter of a century back. 



WOMEN are constantly urged to leave everything in the 
hands of men, and they will get whatever it is right for 
them to have. This argument is often used by those 
men who are themselves most eager to do justice to 
women and remedy their grievances, but who do not 
realize how small is the number of the chivalrous, and 
how vast are the armies of the selfish. 

Since when have one or two women's questions, more 
particularly those relating to education and property, 
been dealt with in the Houses of Parliament? Exactly 
since the time that women have banded themselves to- 
gether to ask for votes with which to do their own work. 
It may seem severe to say that the passing of these bills 
is but a sop thrown to women to keep them quiet, and 
yet, when it is seen with what reluctance these questions 
were attended to, it seems a justifiable assertion. 

Women have suffered at least as much from the 
ignorance of men as to their real wants and wishes, as 


from any deliberate intention of legislating against them. 
It is now recognized, with regard to every class of men, 
that delegated representation means misrepresentation, 
and women are no exceptions. Surely it is the wearer, 
and not the shoemaker, that knows best where the shoe 
pinches. Women have suffered so bitterly from regula-'^ 
tions intended for their benefit, that they now cry for a / 
fair field and no favour, and are willing to abandon any / 
little advantages they may possess, should they thereby! 
secure the right to make their power felt. J 

Besides, Members of Parliament, however chivalrous, 
are but human. Their seats depend on the votes of 
their constituents, and it is to the cries of their consti- 
tuents that they most readily respond. The pressure of 
time, and the multiplicity of demands for help in Par- 
liament become yearly greater, and it is really no reproach 
to honourable members to say that they have no time to 
attend to such outsiders as the women are. 

Before the first Reform Bill, the number of voters was 
so limited, that there was some pretence for saying that 
the voter represented his friends and neighbours who 
were less fortunate ; but now that voters are reckoned by 
the million, it is a case of every man for himself. 

Women have already proved to their own satisfaction 
how their wants are attended to if their arguments are 
backed by votes, as they find, since they have held the 
municipal vote, that town councillors have an ever-ready 
ear for women's grievances. So long as they have no 
votes, they can never be sure that even those liberties 


they possess are secure, nor that fresh disabilities and 
Restrictions may not be slipped through Parliament before 
they have time to make use of tha^indirect influenced/that 
men assure them is so potent. There is a simplicity and 
a directness about their claim to a vote, with which to 
settle their own difficulties, that should recommend it to 
those who prefer going to the root of questions instead 
of merely scratching the surface. 

But perhaps the most weighty argument which is used 
agajnst granting a vote to women, is that it would cause 
a great loss of feminine charm and constitute a great 
injury to home life. These statements must be supposed 
to refer to the whole agitation for an improvement in the 
position and education of women, rather than to the very 
limited demand for a parliamentary vote. The point is 
one to discuss, for the opinions as to what constitutes 
" feminine charm " are so varied and contradictory. 

There are undoubtedly many who think that the in- 
evitable result of a woman earning her own living is to 
deteriorate her considerably, and to make her less desir- 
able as a wife and mother of a family. There are, again, 
many who think that a woman is not truly womanly if 
she expresses opinions of her own, or is more deeply 
read in science, or literature, or languages than the men 
who surround her. But you cannot put back the hands 
of the clock, and it is idle to prevent a woman from 
obtaining education ; indeed, many of those who most 
strongly object to her taking a part in political life, urge 


her to occupy herself at home in improving her own 

But education brings knowledge of the position of 
women both at home and abroad. ^They see that in one 
country they are allowed rights over their property, in 
another rights over their children, that in another even 
some political rights are granted, and they soon learn that 
the only means men have devised for getting what they 
want is the vote. 

The idea that an ignorant woman conducts her house- 
hold best and rears her children most wisely is never now 
put forward. /Homes are best managed by women wlio^N 
combine education with knowledge of the world, common / 
sense, and a feeling of responsibility. When you give a / 
vote to such women they will undoubtedly continue to 7 
make use of these qualities in their homes as well as at 1 
the polling-booths^ 

It is, to some extent, true that women cannot well 
combine the earning of their livelihood with home life. 
But those who wish to put a vote into her hands do not 
insist that every woman should earn her own livelihood. 
They only wish that the large number of women who are 
inevitably obliged to work, should do so under the best 
possible conditions ; that, as unskilled labour means star- 
vation, or the workhouse, or the streets, to hundreds of 
thousands of women, they should be enabled, while young 
enough to learn, to obtain technical training which may 
lead to well-paid, skilled work, so as to have their desti- 
nies in their own hands. They do not imagine that a 


vote will give them all they require, but they know it 
will supply them with a powerful lever to be used for 
their own advancement. 

It cannot be supposed that the mere act of marking 
a paper and handing it to a returning officer, makes 
so remarkable a change in the character and attractions 
of women, as they already do this in thousands of cases 
in municipal and other local elections. It is, rather, that 
fhis parliamentary vote, which has undoubtedly become 
the hall-mark of citizenship in the British Isles, would, if 
bestowed on women, be the recognition of an altered 
state of things the public admission of women to a 
position of equality. But if this change has already to 
a great extent taken place, there is something childish 
about refusing the hall-mark to what nevertheless is 
genuine metal, and there is certainly an injustice in a 
departure from rules that apply to all other citizens. 

Women do not themselves believe that they are makirig 
themselves a whit less "womanly," taking the word in 
its most worthy and least frivolous sense, by claiming a 
vote ; on the contrary, they are striving to place their own 
sex in a higher and worthier position, honestly believing 
that by so doing they are working for the benefit of the 
men as well as of the women. 

i~ They are often told that they will have to give up 
all the little attentions and civilities that are so dear to 
them, if they claim equal rights before the law. But even 
were this the case, how many women would this touch ? 
How much politeness and attention would the toiling 


working woman have to sacrifice ? But her more gently 
nurtured sister need have no fear. !Men will continue to/ ^ 
court favour with pretty faces, and do homage to thq ' 

queens of society, be there votes or be there none ; and i 
wouldlndeed require the darkest of pessimists to declare 
that the world will deteriorate so much, that Jf women 
have votes all true chivalry will vanish, that chivalry 
which helps the weak and supports the feeble, which 
pays no attention to youth, or looks, or wealth, but gives 
help in time of need. 

If we come to think of it, the amount of civility and 
attention now paid by men to women in society is not so 
very extensive. If men wait on women in public, do not 
women always wait on men in private ? And they will 
certainly continue to cook the dinners, and warm the 
slippers, and lay the newspaper, all cut and folded, at the 
man's elbow, even should they afterwards find time to 
read that newspaper themselves. 

Careful politicians always seriously consider the conse- 
quences of their acts before making any important change 
in the machinery of government ; but were undue weight 
to be assigned to all the imaginary and illusory conse- 
quences which can be conjured up, there would never be 
any changes at all ! Andjvomen resent the idea of being 
made to pay even the conventionalities and politenesses^ 
of an artificial society in exchange for their rights. They 
do not consider that the present suppositious contract is 
advantageous for them. The old feudal law of Europe 
broke down principally because, though the vassals per- 


formed their part of the contract, by supplying soldiers 
and service to their feudal chiefs, they did not in return 
get that protection and help they were entitled to expect. 
Even where this assistance was granted, the bargain was 
found to be unfair and too onerous on the vassals. So 
women, however grateful for protection and help, find 
that in an enormous number of cases they have to do 
without it, and that even where they obtain it, too much 
is expected in return; so that, like the feudal vassals, 
they have in the long run the worst of the bargain. They 
consider that, if it is once proved that for the general 
benefit they should be enfranchised, the liberty should be 
granted them without any attempt at barter. 

The popular phrase, " A woman's sphere," is supposed 
by many to have a most potent effect in withstanding any 
^claims to enfranchisement. Yet there are such differ- 
ences of opinion as to^vhat is a man's sphere^or what is 
a woman's sphere, that they might at least be left to 
settle for themselves what each can do best. A century 
ago, to wield the needle would have at least been con- 
/ ceded to women : and yet men have so far intruded them- 
\selves on women's work, that most of the clothes of the 
/ men and part even of the clothes of the women are now 
" tailor-made." 

Again, midwifery used to be entirely in the hands 
of women, and here also men have gradually absorbed 
the best-paying part of a feminine calling. Without 
for a moment claiming that men should give up these 
occupations, it does strike one as a little hard that 


women should so often be reproached for not remaining 
in their own sphere. 1 

The effect on women generally of treating them as re- 
sponsible persons cannot but be beneficial in the long run. 
It has been remarked that of all religious communities, 
that one which has treated women with the greatest re- 
spect, and placed them in a position of both equality and 
responsibility, is the Society of Friends. And Quaker 
women are admitted by all to have been worthy of the 
confidence bestowed on them, and to have less of that 
frivolity and irresponsibility with which women are so 
constantly reproached, and which has repeatedly been put 
forward as an argument for preventing their acquiring 
electoral rights. 

When the Irish Church was disestablished by Mr. Glad- 
stone's first administration in 1869, a great opportunity was 
lost of enlisting women's devotion, and enthusiasm. The 
Irish Episcopal Church had to be reorganized on an 
independent footing, and it was proposed by the more 
advanced and enlightened section of the clergy to give 
the female members of the congregation some such 
acknowledged position as the women already enjoyed in 
the Presbyterian communities. The suggestion, though 
approved by many, was perhaps before its time, and fell 
to the ground ; but now, when there has been sufficient 
time to realize the numerical inferiority of Protestants in 
Ireland, regrets are constantly heard that a more liberal 
course was not adopted. 

1 See Appendix IV. 


It is hoped, too, that by giving women votes, it will 
save many, especially in the more well-to-do classes, from 
the ennui and absence of interest from which large num- 
bers suffer. It is of course possible to take an interest in 
public affairs without possessing a vote ; but its possession 
undoubtedly has an astonishing effect in creating a general 
steady interest in politics at all times, that is so much 
more beneficial and desirable, than the~1everish and 
short-lived excitement that bursts out in moments of 

mic. To have a vote is to wait for the election day 

rather than to rush into a revolution, and though women 

\ alone are hardly likely to disturb the public peace, yet it 

~"must be remembered that revolutions are brought about 

A. , f by those who have no votes, and who despair of other 

methods of reform, and that there has never yet been a 

revolution in which women have not played an important 


V_ Votes mean responsibility, and though men can never 
prevent women from interesting themselves in politics, 
they run all the danger of leaving power in the hands of 
irresponsible persons. And here we touch on another 
favourite argument of the enemy. Women T they say, 
have already so much powerj^jt 1g nr>r nir tn 

by giving them votes as well. But surely we may reply. 
fhgt it- is rnther an exchange of power than an increase that 
is claimed. 

Women have always exercised a certain sort of poli- 
tical power. Whether in ancient or modern history, we 
see women wielding power, sometimes for good, but in 


an enormous number of cases merely with a view to self- 
interest and intrigue. Every court is the scene of back- 
stairs influence, of favouritism, at times of gross venality, 
carried on to a great extent by women. At first sight this 
hardly encourages men to add to the power of women ; 
but, on going further into the question, it soon appears 
that all this influence is irresponsible, that it cannot be 
called to account, that it is exercised by those women who 
have least want of it, and who are not suffering as much 
as many of their sisters from injustice and hard laws. 

It is degrading and injurious to women, however plea- 
sant it may be to the vanity of men, that to get an injus- 
tice put right, or a grievance attended to, they should 
always have to cajole and wheedle, to scheme and plot. 
And while the less worthy of their sisters are thus em- 
ployed, the dumb thousands of the working women have 
no means of getting their wants attended to at all. There 
are good reasons for believing that should women be 
entrusted with direct and responsible power, it would coun- 
teract the evils of back-stairs influence, and to a great 
extent replace it altogether. 

There is, too, it must not be forgotten, a more legiti- 
mate power wielded by a certain number of women. 
They have acquired it by their intellect, by their know- 
ledge of human character, by that keen insight and quick 
intuition so characteristic of the^uperiorfeminme 
that enables them to see their way clearly through the 
most tangled web of politics. But to increase power of 
this sort by means of a vote could surely do no harm. 




IT is often assumed that women can stand quite aloof 
from politics, and it is urged that to give them votes would 
be to drag them into political life, to which otherwise they 
would be entire strangers. As a matter of fact the posi- 
tions are exactly reversed. Jf is politics that come to 
women, that step into their every-day home life, that 
attract their interest in every direction the more educated 
they become. 

The more social questions come to the front, the more 
impossible will it be to say that women have nothing to 
do with politics. No religious woman, of whatever creed, 
can fail to discover that, in a country where the Church 
'and the blale lire connected, politics step into religious 
matters. No motner ot a tamiiy can ignore the intrusion 
of politics into the questions ot tne education ot her 
children, the vaccination of her babies, the sanitary con- 
dition of her home. No woman householder can imagine 
politics to be a closed book for her, when every war 
increases her income-tax, and constant Acts of Parlia- 


ment affect her rates. Let men first invent a means of 

shutting off politics from women, before asking women to 
leave politics alone. 

The arguments against Women's Suffrage, based on the 
probable use women would make of their votes, are less 
weighty. It is feared by some that__thgy would jfljn__ T*' 
together ancTvbte all one way, thereby upsetting the 
balance of parties. It is admitted as probable that, to 
abolish a certain number of grievances specially affecting 
women, there would be a tendency among them to unite 
in order to return candidates representing their views. 
But few will deny their right to do as much as this. 

On general politics it seems as unlikely that women 
will all vote alike, as that men should suddenly all agree 
to vote against them. Men are influenced in the sides 
they take by their temperaments, by their education and 
bringmg^up, by their surroundings, by the books they 
read, by their interests and occupations;and why women 
should be supposed to be free from all these influences 
it is difficult to say. 

If we were to adopt universal suffrage in England 
undoubtedly the fact that women predominate in numbers 
would increase the fears of those who dread to be ruled by 
them ; but the question at present is a much narrower one, 
as in any case the women householders could never out- 
vote the men. And, again, it must be remembered that, 
under the ballot, it would be impossible to ascertain 
whether the women had voted together or not. 

Far from any danger of their solidarity, those who 


ft (have tried to improve the position of working women, 
\ have always complained of their want of cohesion. At 
) present they seem, whether from defective education or 
] other reasons, to have distinctly less tendency to co- 
/ operate than men, so that the fear of their all voting 
^together appears to be purely illusory. 

As long as they are deprived of political rights, there 
js certainly some danger of their ideas being out of har^ 
jnony with those of men. It is constantly observed by 
English people that immense difficulties, and even dangers, 
arise in France from the fact that the women there are 
brought up with totally different ideas and habits and 
religion to the men. But these difficulties have never yet 
arisen in England, and are never likely to arise, if the 
political progress of the men is accompanied by a like 
advancement in the other sex. It is only when we see 
men making rapid strides towards complete enfranchise- 
"ment, that we begmTo discern a gulf between the two_sexes 
-Jr- which might tend to throw them each into opposing camps ; 
l)ut allow women to advance side by side with men, and 
all danger of their voting " solid " vanishes directly. 
/" With regard to the political party women would be most 
J inclined to join, there are singularly opposing views. It 
,r1 is contended by many that women are naturally con- 
J servative. It is urged that their love of order, their 
| habits of obedience, the narrowness of the grooves in 
/ which they move, their dislike to changes causing dis- 
/ order or disturbance, their love of property and posses- 
l sion, would all tend to make them vote for Conservatives. 


jf\ I But it is as often put forward that they are imagina- 
tive, that they are easily carried away by novel ideas and 
chimeras, that in foreign countries they have befriended 
Nihilists and Communists and revolutionaries of the 
most dangerous descriptions, that the majority of the 
women now agitating for votes hold advanced views and 
, , would influence other women in the use of their votes, 
and that, in fact, not only the Liberal party, but the 
extreme Radical party, could count on an increase of its 
Voting power. 1 

But it is useless to discuss on which side women would 
vote, as, whatever the answer, it should not for a moment 
influence any honest politician in deciding whether to 
grant Women's Suffrage. Every extension of the franchise 
is a leap in the dark as to the results, and it is well 
it should be, for it is certainly most undesirable that it 
should be granted as "a reward to people for holding 
certain political opinions. It has already been pointed 
out, and must not be forgotten, that even when women 
had voted, it would be impossible, on account of the 
ballot, to obtain any accurate statistics showing on which 
side they had bestowed their favours. 

There is a great and genuine fear in the minds of many 
/ Q n that a woman would not vote according to her own 
judgment, bu. " r ould take the advice of the clergyman, 
or priest, or minister of i-he church to which she might 
.happen to belong, and thus practically pj.t her vote into 
his pocket. An Englishm;. n is especially likely to it;." 

1 See Appendix V. 


this, as, apart from the question of whether he is himself 
of a religious temperament or not, he has always had 
a strong dislike to any priestly interference in secular 
matters, and more particularly in politics ; and English- 
men generally describe those who think otherwise as 

It is generally admitted that the tendency of education 
is to make both men and women more inclined to trust 
to their own judgment and to lean less blindly on others/ 
The present rapid growth of female education ought there- 
fore before long to supersede Ihis dimculty altogether. 
Women have certainly shown themselves in the past less 
" priest-ridden " in England than in many other countries, 
and the absence of convents has placed the education of 
girls almost more in secular hands than that of boys. 

Even if English women to a certain extent take the 
advice of their spiritual pastors in political matters, they 
will only follow the example of many men in so doing ; 
neither will the consequences be as injurious as if, like a 
certain number of male electors, they were to vote merely 
from self-interest. The influence of the priest is at least 
as respectable as the influence ot trie publican, and it is 
"quite ceilaiii Lhat^women will be less governed by Jhe,. 
beer-interest than men. 

But supposing every woman's vote were in the pocket 
of a priest, the political Jesuit in England would not 
be so very formidable. The Nonconformist ministers, 
>Yho, not being State servants, feel much more at liberty 
to take an active part in elections than the Church of 


England clergy, would almost invariably incline to the 
Liberal party, while the latter would put in a word for 
the Conservatives ; consequently, the result, as far as can 
be judged, would be a probable equipoise. But putting 
aside the question of the party that would benefit most 
from the interference of the clergy, it must be remembered 
that here again a test is imposed on women, and not on 
men, and it is a religious test, moreover, which is some- 
how peculiarly repugnant to modern ideas. 

Some say that women do not want votes, and that if 
they had them they would not make use of them. This 
argument was constantly used during the American" 
Civil War about the slaves. It was said that the slaves 
did not want to be free, were much happier in bondage, 
and would not know what to do with themselves, or how 
to earn a livelihood if emancipated. It is true, that although 
the right to vote at parliamentary elections certainly 
existed for women before the Reform Bill of 1832,* and 
had in former times occasionally been exercised, yet it had 
fallen entirely into disuse, and no woman had voted for 
half a century, so that their exclusion from that Bill was 
at least excusable. But in view of the steady increase 
of feminine interest in political matters, it is at least 
certain that even after the first curiosity and novelty of 
having a vote had passed away, a considerable proportion 
of women would continue to go to the poll. 

The only reliable statistics we can go upon are those 

1 See Appendix VI. 


of the municipal elections, in which women have for 
some time taken part, and they certainly have done 
so in sufficient numbers to refute any allegations of in- 

But even with regard to the voting at municipal 
elections, the statistics are very limited, as the passing 
of the Ballot Act made all official returns of the kind 
impossible, and we can only refer to those few years 
between the admission of women to the municipal 
franchise and the passing of the Ballot Act. Yet in 
1870, 25 per cent, of the women on the register voted, 
although the novelty of polling had disappeared ; 
and the proportion of men who voted is only slightly 
greater. This was fifteen years ago, and there is every 
reason to believe, though it cannot be demonstrated by 
figures, that women take an increased interest in public 
affairs now, and that a larger proportion take part in 
municipal elections now than they did at that time. It is 
well known that among men the proportion who vote at a 
General Election is much larger than at any local contest, 
and so it undoubtedly, would be with women. An interest- 
ing point to be observed about these elections for Town 
Councils is that the proportions rise and fall together, 
showing that what interests the male section of the com- 
munity has precisely the same effect on the female 

If people wish for a thing, they not only ask for it 
themselves, but work for it and make sacrifices to obtain 
it. The agitation for Women's Suffra^ has 


supported by thousands of women at meetings ; they 
have signed their names to petitions in enormous num- 
bers, and have given money and time and trouble and 
thought to the agitation ; so that the argument that women 
do not want the vote does not at any rate apply to them. 
Whether a plebiscite of the women of the British Isles 
would accept or reject the franchise, there is no means 
of telling ; but those who do demand it, wish to point 
out that in any case voting is never compulsory, and 
that no woman would be forced to vote unless she 

Were votes given to the women householders from 
motives of justice and expediency, and they all, save one, 
declined -or neglected to exercise their right, that one 
should not be deprived of her vote because of the others. 
As we know, moreover, that at any rate a certain number 
of women would value the vote, for they are undoubtedly 
making sacrifices to obtain it, there is no need to ask 
what the other women would do. 

Women would not be dragged unwillingly into the 
whirlpool of politics any more than the men who now 
prefer to stand aloof. They would at long intervals, once 
or twice in five or six years, receive the visits of the 
political canvassers, who would certainly not waste their 
time in trying to force the doors of those who preferred 
to keep them shut. 

The idea that elections and political meetings are 
necessarily scenes of disorder and strife belongs to a 
previous state of existence. With the secrecy of the 


ballot, the admission of the large masses of the people to 
the franchise, and the stringent regulations of the Cor- 
rupt Practices Act, the tendency is every year greater to 
have orderly and quiet elections even when party feeling 
runs high. 

Had women to go to the poll it would tend to order 
and quiet to a yet greater extent. The well-known 
example of the Territory of Wyoming, in the United 
States, cannot be too often quoted, as there the franchise 
was given to the women with the stated object of seeing 
whether it would not put an end to the turbulence and 
violence that had so long disgraced the district. And the 
success was complete. If the men all knew that their 
female relatives must pass through the streets on the 
election day, they would have the greatest inducement to 
assist in the preservation of order. 

it is too late to protest against the appearance of 
women on public platforms, or against their taking part in 
the proceedings, for that has become so frequent as no 
longer to excite the astonishment or shock the feelings 
of any audience. As a matter of fact, it is probable, that 
were Women's Suffrage passed, there would be less occa- 
sion for them to appear in public than there is now,, 
though undoubtedly they would continue to do so, as 
occasion might arise. 

Most of the women now engaged in agitating this 
question wish to avoid any unnecessary show of hostility^ 
~tnwards""men. They feel deeply a sense of injustice, or, 


as Mr. Gladstone once put it, " that women obtain less 
than justice ; " * but they think a change of the law will 
be better promoted if they point out in a straight- 
forward manner their grievances and their wrongs, rather 
than if they attack the motives and proceedings of the 
men who made that law. Men certainly complain if any 
hostility is shown towards them, and are apparently 
aggrieved if any acrimony is allowed to appear, even 
when unredressed grievances are under discussion ; but 
those who believe that it is impossible for men really to 
know what women want and feel unless they have women 
as constituents, do well not to attack them too bitterly for 
their inevitable mistakes. 

Some men seem to think that women would like to 
have all the advantages, and none of the disadvantages 
of the position of citizens. But when and where have 
women advocated anything but equality ? The Married 
Women's Property Act of 1882 not only secured a 
woman in the enjoyment of her own property, but threw 
upon her many liabilities as well, which she had hitherto 
escaped. It enabled her to be either a trustee or a bank- 
rupt, and it made her property liable for the maintenance 
of the family ; but women gladly accepted these new 
duties and liabilities as the logical outcome of their new 

The most is made of one or two small inequalities of 
the law, which are rather the effect of careless legislation 
than any deliberate intention of benefiting women to the 

1 See Appendix VII. 


exclusion of men. At present a magistrate may grant 
a judicial separation to a wife who has been beaten or 
severely ill-used by her husband, while in the rare cases 
of a husband suffering from his wife's assaults, he is unable 
to obtain this relief. But women would be the first to 
place this law on an equal footing, if men required their 
^assistance in order to do so. 

It is sometimes urged that women are not a separate 
class, and that therefore they do not need any separate 
votes or voice in the government. But the only possible 
meaning of the expression, " a separate class," is a 
number of people for whom different rules and regula- 
tions are required from their neighbours. Do away with 
the present political disabilities of women, and they will 
to that extent cease to be a class. But political power is 
not now given to one class and withheld from another. 
The tendency of the age is to endeavour to obliterate 
class distinctions, and it is as individuals rather than as a 
class that women claim the right to vote. 

It is constantly assumed that every woman has a 
husband, or a father, or a brother, capable and willing to 
fight for her interests as well as his own, and defend her 
in all troubles, and advise her in all difficulties. But 
unfortunately there exists an immense number of women 
who are not shut up in glass cases in this way, who have 
no near relatives to whom they have the right to apply 
for help on all occasions, and who from one cause or 
another ? and generally from circumstances not under 
their own control, are entirely dependent on their own 


resources ; and the fact that in all legislation their posi- 
tion and very existence is entirely left out of account, 
does not tend to lessen their troubles, or make the earning 
of daily bread less toilsome and difficult. 



EVERY argument that has been used during the last half- 
century for the enfranchisement of the working classes, 
whether in the towns or in the counties, applies with 
equal force to women ; and it is curious to hear these 
arguments constantly used by those who refuse to carry 
them to their logical conclusion. 1 

It has been said, a vote is a great educator ; give a 
man a vote, even be he ignorant and illiterate, and the 
first use he will make of it will be to get for his children 
that very education in which he feels himself so defi- 
cient. Undoubtedly the progress of national education 
has gone hand in hand with the enfranchisement of the 
people, though it is somewhat difficult to prove which is 
cause and which is effect. Education is probably in its 
most backward stages among the agricultural labourers 
who benefit by the recent Reform Bill, and it will be 
interesting to note whether they will not rise both in 
intelligence and education to the level of their brother 

1 See Appendix VIII. 


workmen in the towns, now that politically they are on 
an equal footing. -But while amongthe men, education 
and enfranchisement thus march hand in hand and help 
each other forward, women have the harder task of edu- 
cating themselves first, in order to show that they are nt" 
for the franchise. 

The agricultural labourer is told that he is too sub- 
missive and too dependent, that he is ruled by the 
squire and the parson, and cannot even make advan- 
tageous terms with the farmer. He is told that if he is 
given a vote he will be able to change all this for himself; 
he will be able more easily to emigrate, or to combine 
with his fellows to obtain better terms at home, and 
generally to learn to think and act for himself, and to 
increase his self-respect and independence. This is a 
dangerous lesson to repeat in the ears of women if they 
are not to profit by it and apply it to their own position. 
They too are aiming at more independence and less 
artificial restraint ; they too wish to combine to improve 
their wages and think for themselves. And to hear a 
vote held out as a means to all these desirable ends, 
tempts women to hasten towards the same goal. 

Many of the farm labourers, by dint of care and self- 
sacrifice and years of thrift and temperance, have raised 
themselves to a position in which a vote was to be got 
even under the old restricted franchise. But .a woman 
may be as thrifty and temperate, hard-working and careful 
as she likes the vote still hangs out of her reach in the- 
most tantalizing manner. 



f~ It has often been remarked that the law classes women 
with infants, criminals, and lunatics ; but even in that 
doubtful company she holds an inferior position. A 
minor grows to manhood before many .years are passed, 
a criminal resumes the rights of citizenship as soon as 
/ his sentence has elapsed, a lunatic may recover and vote 
f\ as before ; but a woman, do what she will, is always 
I excluded. A fortune may be left her ; she may attain 
/ celebrity in literature, art, or science ; she may be upheld 
/ as a model of all the virtues ; she may devote herself to 
her country, and pour out her wealth for its benefit but 
y^ vote she has never any hope of reaching. 

How often have the agricultural labourers been told 
that they are to be given votes because no one can tell 
their wants so well as themselves ? But they are not 
only given power to legislate for themselves ; they are to 
help to decide what is good for women as well, from the 
peeress in her own castle to the factory girl at her 

It must not be imagined that if -nothing is done in 
the direction of giving voting power to women, that 
things will go on as they were before ; that as women" 
have managed to exist very fairly comfortably without 
votes hitherto, no very great harm will be done by 
letting things aloneT .Unfortunately for this comfortable 
and faineant argument, if everything else improves and 
moves on, women alone will stand still and find them- 
selves in the extremely inconvenient position of being 


left stranded with the tide of human progress flowing far 
away in another channel. 

Their position will be very different and very much 
worse than in former times. Then, most men had no 
votes. Now, women alone will stand in the ranks of the 
governed, with all the men to govern them. For men 
will not consent to stand still, though the hopes of 
women remain stranded. Men are pushing on to man- 
hood suffrage, while women, having failed to gain atten- 
tion from the limited number of male-voters, have now 
to set about the task of converting the newly enfranchised 
millions. There was some sort of equality between men 
and women under the Georges, while under Queen 
Victoria women are forced to stand aside and let the 
men alone receive the badge of freedom. 

The change caused by the ever-increasing population 
of the British Isles makes the position of the unen- 
franchised harder to bear. In a thinly peopled country 
personal liberty has full scope, and the government 
inspector is unknown. But in the crowded state of 
Britain to-day, existence is only possible under a system 
of elaborate inspection and regulation that threatens 
soon to outshine the most paternally governed conti- 
nental State. Compulsory education, compulsory sanitary 
inspection, compulsory vaccination are all voted for by 
men who are willing to submit to them, and to"~pay for 
them. "But women, witli whom this army of inspectors 
an^L government officials interfere, perhaps morethan 
with men, have to pay and submit without effectual means 


of expressing an opinion on the subject. To give up 
personal liberty of your own tree will, for the benefit of 
your fellow- men, may be a duty : but to have it forced 
upon you by the votes of others is hardly distinguishable 
rom tyranny. 

omen fully realize the importance of obtaining 
suitable machinery before setting to work to improve 
their position, and it is for this reason that so many have 
concentrated their efforts on the attempt to obtain votes. 
Yet, were Parliament to put aside purely political ques- 
tions, whether relating to its own constitution or to 
foreign affairs, and were to turn its attention to the 
social welfare of the people, it would be perceived at 
once how great a loss is the absence of women's opinion 
in arriving at a just conclusion. It is even to a certain 
extent recognized that here is women's sphere, and it is 
quite possible that the slow progress made in social 
reform, is due to the absence of women from political 
life, and a certain reluctance to plunge into it without 
their guidance. Land questions, as well as county govern- 
ment, have been postponed to see what the new voters 
under the Reform Bill have to say ; and undoubtedly to 
attack social questions, with half the nation dumb, might 
seriously compromise the success of any such under- 

In the wide field of practical philanthropy there is 
room and work for both men and women,' but un- 
doubtedly there is a great deal that is best done by the 
voluntary help of sensible women. And there are an 


enormous number in the field. Whether their work 
consist of rent-collecting, of befriending young girls and 
rinding them employment, of nursing the sick poor in 
their own homes, of distributing charity to the deserving, 
of rescuing women from the ranks of vice, the number 
who have gained experience and knowledge that would 
be of help in coping with poverty and crime is every 
day increasing. Nor are the religious bodies behind- 
hand in getting women to penetrate even the worst slums 
of the metropolis. The Bible women and the mission 
women know more of the darker sides of life than the 
great body of ordinary electors ; and they would be less 
likely to vote for make-shift remedies had they the power. 

Besides, Acts of Parliament alone will not make a 
people moral and cleanly and sober, though they may go 
far to encourage these qualities. Show women that they 
too are interested in the welfare of the nation by en- 
trusting them with votes, and they will be the first to 
give that personal work, to advise, to comfort, and to 
teach, without which Acts of Parliament on social ques- 
tions are apt to become so much waste paper. 

To women's honour, b.e it said, they have already 
done much in this direction, but to withhold what many 
consider their right is hardly the way to encourage them 
to walk in the paths of disinterested citizenship. It is 
only those who have attempted to grapple with the 
difficult problems of social and moral regeneration, who 
realize how dangerous it is to leave any power for good 
slumbering unused, while all the evil influences have 


full swing. We cannot afford to do it. Women have 
leisure, women have sensitive feelings and acute percep- 
tions; they could make use of their knowledge, and 


prevent disastrous legislative mistakes, had men some 
means of getting at their collective opinions. But_as 
long as men prefer to trust entirely to themselves, im- 
provement in certain directions is impeded if not 
altogether at a stand-still. 

The political history of England may well be compared 
to the ebb and flow of the tide. First come periods of 
political excitement and reform, when progress, or at 
any rate change, makes rapid strides forward ; and the 
time when there shall no longer exist any abuse to sweep 
away, seems rapidly approaching. But the greater the 
movement forward, the more certainly comes the reflux, 
when nothing is so much desired by the nation as to 
rest and be thankful, and a period of political stagnation 
sets in. 

It is those who have no votes who suffer most from 
these varying phases of public life. In times of excite- 
ment their voices are not heard, or, if heard, they are 
harshly told this is no time to listen to small grievances. 
When quieter times set in, they are again thrust aside as 
ill-advised in proposing changes when all are yearning for 
peace. The consequence is that at one moment unjust 
laws slip through without the possibility of women pro- 
curing their rejection, or at least fair discussion ; and at 
another no legislation at all can be obtained. 


During the celebrated Midlothian campaign of 1879, 
Mr. Gladstone appealed to the women of Scotland for 
their help and influence. 1 But, to borrow a comparison 
recently used by Professor Stuart, M.P., it is no useA 
asking women to pull a bell-rope when there is no belK 
attached to the other end. 

If women had possessed votes during former adminis- 
trations, undoubtedly the C. D, Acts would not have 
been imposed without a struggle, and the Factory Acts 
would have been submitted to a more thorough and 
impartial criticism, which would have caused the omis- 
sion of several important clauses. The woman's task is 
indeed hard and discouraging when all her efforts fail to 
prevent the imposition of fresh disabilities, and when 
she herself so clearly sees what is wanted to prevent the 
forging of new chains. 

In looking through the list of changes in the law that 
are now contemplated, it is possible to point out more 
than one instance of fresh disabilities likely to be imposed 

1 "I therefore think in appealing to you ungrudgingly to open 
your own feelings and play your own part in this political crisis we 
are making no inappropriate demand, but are beseeching you to 
fulfil the duties which belong to you, which, so far from involving 
any departure from your character as women, are associated with 
the fulfilment of that character and the performance of that duty, 
and the neglect of which would in future times be to you a source 
of pain and mortification, and the accomplishment of which would 
serve to gild your own future years with sweet remembrances, and 
to warrant you in hoping that each in your own place and sphere 
has raised your voice for justice and has striven to mitigate the 
sorrows and misfortunes of mankind." 


on women, unless they are first given that useful defensive 
weapon called a vote. Will men deny that the question 
of " Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister " is of import- 
ance to women ? Some politicians, whose brains are not 
distinguished for lucidity, have a vague idea that they 
will for once be legislating for women by passing this 
Bill into law. Yet apart from the question of whether 
it is for the advantage of the family (and all second 
marriages must be examined from this point of view), 
and whether women are for or against it, undoubtedly it 
would create a fresh grievance and a new disability. If a 
widower is to be allowed to marry the sister of his late 
wife, so as to give his children a mother interested in 
them, why should not a widow be allowed to marry her 
deceased husband's brother if she consider it for the 
advantage of her young family ? Many persons have a 
vague idea that one includes the other ; others again are 
positive that the first is a most desirable arrangement, 
while words are not strong enough to denounce those 
who think the second quite as harmless. Women at any 
rate are logical enough to ,see that this is not a question 
that can be settled properly, unless all who are con- 
cerned have a voice in discussing it. To create so great 
a disability at the present time, would give a fatal blow 
to the belief that men may be trusted to see justice done 
to women. 

There is a strong inclination in the House of Commons 
to throw the expenses of the returning officer during 
elections on to the rates, instead of as at present making 


the candidates themselves pay. A Bill with this object 
was even read a second time in 1882. However much 
may be said for such a measure by those who are both rate- 
payers and voters, would not this also be a fresh grievance 
for women who would have to pay for elections in which 
they take no part ? 

This is exactly what takes place now wherever a con- 
stituency is suspected of corrupt practices. A commission 
is appointed to hold meetings and examine witnesses in 
the accused place, and the whole of the expenses of this 
commission, whether the verdict is ultimately "guilty" 
or " not guilty," are thrown on the ratepayers. Sometimes 
this fine amounts to as much as a shilling in the pound. 
The poor householders of the female sex are thus severely 
punished for a crime they have not even had a chance of 
committing, for no candidate or his agent would waste 
money in bribing a woman householder, while a male 
voter may possibly have received money from both sides. 

The hardship arising from being a responsible house- 
holder, and yet being without a vote, is exemplified in a 
small way by the Registration of Voters Act 1885. Every 
householder is required, under a penalty of forty shillings, 
to make a return of every male person employed by him 
or her, for the purpose of registering all those, who, living 
under a separate roof, may, under the service franchise, 
be entitled to a vote. Thus a woman farmer has herself 
to cause to be registered all the labourers on her farm, and 
though, it is to be hoped, most women are not selfish 
enough to wish to deprive any men of the much-prized 


vote, yet they cannot but feel bitterly the fact that they 
are entirely excluded, and may even be severely fined for 
neglecting to enfranchise others. It really seems an 
ingenious manner of officially informing women of the 
inferior position they "hold; and though not in itself of 
very great importance, may lead them to a better under- 
standing of all that their exclusion involves. 



THIS question of Women's Suffrage has hitherto been 
successfully prevented from falling into the hands of any 
party in the House of Commons, or indeed in the coun- 
try. Whatever may be the arguments for party govern- 
ment, all questions that have not been made " Government 
questions " stand on firmer footing if they trust to the 
arguments that appeal to sensible persons, and accept 
support from whatever side it is offered. 

Undoubtedly many of the advocates of Women's Suf- 
frage have been known as strong partisans, but every 
division list shows support from Liberals and Conserva- 
tives, Whigs and Radicals, Home Rulers and Ulster 
members. The same disregard of party is apparent in 
the opposition to the measure, as members of all parties 
have voted against it. The speakers who have sup- 
ported this reform in the House of Commons are drawn 
from all sides, and the tellers for Women's Suffrage in 
the last division (1884) were, as on former occasions, one 


a Liberal and the other a Conservative (Mr. Woodall 
and Baron de Worms). I 

It has of late, for various reasons, become increasingly 
difficult for a private member successfully to pilot any 
Bill that rouses opposition through the House of 
Commons; the probability is therefore that, as the 
question cannot much longer remain unsettled, it will 
fall into the hands of either the Conservative or the 

1 The following analysis of the two last divisions may be found 
interesting as showing the division of parties. The tellers are 



1883 84 19 13 116 

1884 32 96 9 137 



1883 51 78 3 132 

1884 236 27 10 273 

The following are the numbers of the divisions taken in the 
House of Commons on the question of Women's Suffrage. In some 
cases a Bill was submitted, at other times a resolution ; and in the 
last case an amendment to a Bill already before the House, which 
accounts for the falling off of support and the increase of the 
majority against. 


1867 75 196 


Second Reading ... 124 91 

Committee stage ... 94 220 

l87I 151 220 

1872 143 222 

1873 J 55 222 

1875 !52 187 

1876 152 238 

1878 140 219 

1879 ... 103 217 

1883 114 130 

1884 135 2?I 


Liberal party and become a Government measure. But 
it would be impossible at present to say which party will 
distinguish itself by taking it up. When this event 
does occur it is, however, certain that a number of old 
friends from the opposite camp will continue to give the 
reform their faithful support. 

In arguing the question at public debates, or speaking 
about it at puolic meetings, it is found a great advantage 
to be able to say with a clear conscience to any person 
inclined to be friendly, that this is a cause above party 
politics, and can safely be supported, on its merits alone. 

jn looking at the past history of the movement, it is 
evident lhat it originated as a practical question among 
Liberals of an advanced type, such as Mr. John Stuart 
Mill and Mr. Jacob Bright, who are the best known 
among the supporters of the question when first raised in 
the House of Commons. It is also obvious that while 
the support on the Liberal side has been maintained, 
the present Parliament has seen a considerable increase 
of interest on the Conservative benches. 

Those who believe in the innate conservatism of the 
female mind, and ground their opposition on this most 
problematical theory, are wont to declare that this increase 
of support is mainly due to selfish and interested con- 
siderations. But seeing that ample arguments exist for 
disinterested and reasonable Conservative support, women 
at any rate will be inclined to give them the benefit of the 


I It is surely a logical argument to advance, that since 
men no longer hold the franchise in trust for one another, 
they can no longer be supposed to hold it in trust for 
women. 1 Whereas formerly there was an attempt to place 
votes in the hands of a selected and superior class, that 
system has been found impracticable, all barriers have 
been swept away, and the franchise has been given as 
a right to the many rather than as a trust to the few. 

L How, then, is it possible to exclude a body of persons, 
large numbers of whom are equal in education, intelli- 
gence, property, and conduct, to those who formerly were 
the selected electors of the country? By their inclusion 
the standard might have been kept level, but by shutting 
them out, the only possible additions have been from an 
inferior class of persons. 

^ The upper classes in this country, among whom Con- 
servatism naturally finds a majority of supporters, are able 
better to appreciate the bitter feelings of a woman- who, if 
she be a landowner or the mistress of a fortune, sees every 
servant and dependent on her estate given a vote as soon 
as she has provided him with a separate dwelling, while 
she alone is excluded. 

In former times she had much political influence and 
power. It was considered most fitting and proper that 
the mistress of many acres should direct the opinions and 
more or less dispose of the votes of all who lived on her 
land. Now, the ballot has made every vote secret, and 
" undue influence" is a heavily punished crime under the 

1 See Appendix IX. 


Corrupt Practices Acts. To these women Conservatives 
would only be restoring, in a more legitimate and bene- 
ficial form, the power of former times. Politicians, who 
fear the use to be made of political power by those who 
never have wielded it before, are anxious to counteract it 
by the enfranchisement of the women of the upper and 
middle classes, who they hope will be more amenable to 
the prejudices, beliefs, and sentiments of their own class. 

These same persons would desire once and for all 
to close the reform question, so as to remain on the safe 
landing-stage of household suffrage. They foresee that 
if numbers of women agitate for enfranchisement, the 
whole question of Reform may again come up at any 
moment, and universal suffrage be hastened, when it is 
perceived that household suffrage is not even a reality. 

Nothing would so much tend to close, at any rate for 
the present, the whole era of Parliamentary Reform, as 
the inclusion of every householder, male or female, within 
its bounds. 

This is an opinion held not only by Conservatives 
anxious to vote for women householders, but by those 
advanced Radicals who are most eager for universal 
suffrage. They do not wish to close the whole question 
and make the present system so logical that it would be 
difficult to supersede. They would be ready even to vote 
against Womerf*s Suffrage altogether, while approving of it, 
rather than postpone for a few years the manhood suffrage 
they are aiming at. 

There are many, too, who are afraid of the admission 


of women householders, as in their hearts they believe it 
would prove so excellent and just a measure, that a more 
extended claim would be based upon its evident success ; 
but it will be best in a separate chapter to discuss to what 
extent women should at present be granted votes. 


IT is necessary carefully to examine the grievances from 
which women suffer, and of which they constantly com- 
plain, as they have certainly been the primary cause of 
the claim for the franchise. And yet it would be a great 
mistake, by accentuating these grievances, to let any men 
suppose, as some undoubtedly do already, that they have 
only to cure these legislative mistakes in order to put an 
end to the agitation. 

Were all the inequalities smoothed away, women, unless 
they had the vote, would never feel that they could 
prevent the same or other inequalities from being re- 
established. Besides, women would then be admittedly 
on an equality with men, and it would be difficult to say 
why, if not inferior beings, they should be deprived of 
any rights that men possessed. 

To return to the well-worn comparison between the 
condition of women and that of slaves, it would hardly 
be contended that, even were all slaves well treated by 
their owners, slavery would be an excellent institution, 



and worthy to be upheld. Before the abolition of slavery 
this argument was constantly used, and yet, from its in- 
herent viciousness, slavery had died out in many coun- 
tries where slaves were usually well cared for. And now, 
that the cruelty practised in particular cases on slaves is 
no longer prominently before the public, the whole in- 
stitution is none the less condemned as mischievous in 
its immediate results and disastrous in its after conse- 
quences. The cruel treatment merely appealed more 
vividly to the imaginations of the people, and brought 
home to them, as no arguments could ever do, the 
iniquity of the system. 

And so it is with women's grievances. They have 
caused the whole question of women's position and rights 
to be discussed and canvassed, and every act of injustice 
that entails misery on some woman is turned to good 
account as an argument for the improvement of her con- 
dition before the law. But were every law that bears 
heavily on women repealed, the injustice of their exclusion 
from the polling-booth would still remain the same, and 
the agitation for votes would continue as before, their 
claim resting on a solid footing of reason and common 
sense rather than on any grievance, however hard to bear. 
At the same time, were even a small section of women 
allowed votes, their first energies would be directed 
towards the repeal of unequal laws, and all who are now 
labouring in that direction would find their task mate- 
rially facilitated. 

The grievances may be divided under seven headings : 


I. Custody and guardianship of children. 
II. Divorce and marriage laws. 
III. Protection of the person. 
IV. Property laws. 
V. Testamentary laws. 
VI. Taxation. 
VII. Trade regulations. 

The rights of parents over their children are certainly 
very simple, if not very just. One parent, the father, has 
all the rights, the other, the mother, has none. It says 
much for the forbearance of the average Englishman, 
that with so unlimited a power in his hands, he has, on 
the whole, so little abused it. Had there been more 
frequent cases of the enforcement of the father's rights, 
at the expense of an innocent mother, it is hardly pos- 
sible to believe that the present state of the law could 
have continued untouched up to this day. For once 
men appear to have realized that though 

" It is excellent 

To have a giant's strength, ... it is tyrannous 
To use it like a giant." 

In every other civilized country, and in many that are 
usually held to be outside the pale of civilization, the 
mother has legally some claim, some rights over her own 
offspring ; in England her rights cannot be said to exist. 
" The father alone has the power to direct their educa- 
tion, to decide in what religion they are to be instructed, 
to apprentice them to any trade without the mother's 


consent, and to take their earnings. He can say where 
and with whom they shall reside, and can not only take 
them from their mother whilst they are infants, but can 
send them to a foreign country if he think fit. In no 
case has the mother any remedy unless she is rich enough 
to invoke the aid of the Court of Chancery, and then the 
court will help her only if she can prove (a) That the 
children have suffered serious physical and moral injury 
from the treatment of the father, (b] That the conduct 
of the father has been such as to entitle her to a separa- 
tion. .But though the law gives all the power to the 
father alone, the mother is bound by law to maintain the 
children out of her own earnings, if from any cause Jhe 
father fails to do soT She cannot compel him to support 
the children ; he may refuse, and it is not until she goes 
into the workhouse that the Poor Law Guardians inter- 
fere, and make him pay for the maintenance of his 
family through an order obtained from a magistrate. If 
he refuse this order he can be sent to prison, but in no 
case is he obliged to give more than a pauper's allowance 
for them." 1 

It is not only during the lifetime of the father that the 
custody ot the childien is eiilnely left Lu him; alter jiis 
death he has still more power over them than the living 
mother. He may by will appoint any person guardian with- 
'out even consulting his wife, and this guardian exercises 
all control over the home, the religion, and the educa- 

1 See " What is women's suffrage, and why do women want it ? " 
by "Veritas." 


tion of the children. And if a man die intestate, or if he 
omit in his will to appoint guardians for his children, the 
mother does not even then necessarily become the legal 
guardian. The husband's male relatives may come forward 
as his representatives, and claim the guardianship of the 
children. The woman has no similar rights in case of her 
death ; she cannot appoint a guardian to fill her place in 
case her husband marry again or neglect her children ; 
she cannot even appoint a guardian when her husband is 
already dead, and she is likely to follow him to the grave. 

Women must remember that no promise made by a 
man before marriage, even should the marriage be con- 
ditional on that promise, can deprive him of these rights. 
He may break every promise with regard to his children, 
and the law will sanction his conduct. 1 

It is not until the year 1884 that we find any attempt 
was made to legislate in this matter. Mr. Bryce was 
indeed able in that session to carry a Bill through the 
House of Commons altering the present state of the law. 
But while it was at first drawn with a view to give women 
equality with their husbands in all matters relating to 
their children, in its course through committee it was so 
mutilated and restricted as to be comparatively valueless. 
The consequence was that when the House of Lord's 
quietly suspended it for future consideration, its best 
friends hardly thought it worth while to enter a protest. 
No further legislative progress has been made since that 

1 See Appendix X. 


time, in spite of some futile attempts to obtain a discussion 
during the late session of 1885. 

It appeared from the debates on this Bill that although 
many Members of Parliament admit that a woman has 
the first claim over her children after her husband's 
death, comparatively few think that she should have 
equal rights over them during his lifetime. Under the 
circumstances, it seems unlikely that any drastic change 
in the law is probable. 

It is extraordinary to find how much ignorance exists 
in England both among fathers and mothers on the 
point of their respective rights over the children, and it 
is only when they disagree that they realize the position. 
But it is a question upon which there is much greater 
unanimity among women than on any other point of 
the women's rights platform, as few women with children 
of their own can fail to believe in their moral rights over 

From the question of the custody of children, it is 
natural to pass at once to the inequalities in the marriage 
and divorce law, as it is impossible to consider the jus- 
tice of equal rights to divorce without finding the ques- 
tion of the custody of children continually cropping up. 

The present divorce law dates from 1857, that is to 
say, a few years before women seriously combined to ask 
for votes. As is well known, the divorce law requires a 
woman to prove two conjugal crimes against her husband 
betore she is given a divorce, while he has only to con- 


vict her of one ; thereby setting up a separate code of 
morality for each sex. 

This inability of a woman to obtain a divorce, except 
in very gross cases, combined with the absence of rights 
over her children, place her most unfairly in the power 
of her husband. It must, and does constantly occur, 
that where a wife is treated with brutal violence by her 
husband, she cannot leave him even to return to her own 
parents or* friends, as she would then be obliged to leave 
her children in his custody, to bear all the brunt of his 
ill-will against her. The more tenderly does she perform 
her maternal duties, the more impossible is it for her to 
escape from the tyranny of a man whose crimes against 
her fall short of the required number for a divorce. 

It must not be forgotten that the consequences to a 
woman of having her home broken up, and herself turned 
out into the streets, are always much more severe than 
on a man ; and would always prevent a certain number 
of women from appealing to the divorce courts even had 
they the same facilities as men ; so that to increase the 
difficulties of appeal seems doubly unjust. 

It would almost appear, from the severity with which 
women are treated with regard to their children, that 
they more commonly neglect their duties towards them ; 
and yet it is notorious that the number of cases where 
they are deserted by the father is immensely greater than 
where the mother abandons them. It is generally con- 
sidered that the loss to at any rate small children of a 
mother, is greater than the loss of a father, so that unfair 


legislation tending to the banishment of the mother, 
not only weighs on women, but injuriously affects their 
children. In every way the present English divorce law 
controverts the maxim that the law is intended for the 
protection of the weak. 

The idea that marriage is a state of subjection rather 
than equality, is perhaps fostered by the different vows 
that the Church of England Marriage Service contains. 
But as men notoriously do not take seriously the words, 
" With all my worldly goods I thee endow," so it is pos- 
sible they do not take literally the promise of the bride 
to " obey." It is but fair to remark that the civil contract 
does not contain any inequalities. 

The third complaint, with regard to the protection 
given by law to the persons of women, has already in one 
phase been touched on in the previous paragraph. It 
has for long been observed as a tendency of English law, 
and as the practice of English magistrates and juries, to 
view with much greater leniency any crime against the 
person than any attack on property. 

When it is considered that the House of Commons, 
the bench, and the jury-box are entirely filled with men, 
it cannot be wondered at. Men, as a rule, can defend 
their own persons against any ordinary attack, but call in 
the help of the law to defend property which they hold 
in such large quantities as to make it impossible for the 
owners to defend it personally. Women, on the other 
hand, have comparatively little or no property to defend, 


but are incapable of effectually defending their 'own 

_It_is curious to note that the law defends a man's pro- 
perty, even against his own folly, until he is twenty-one 
years of age. But a girl's virtue, which is too often her 
sole possession, was up to this year (1885) only defended 
by the law till she was fourteen. That, by the Criminal 
Law Amendment Act, the age should have been raised 
to sixteen is a manifest improvement. A man may 
commit gross acts of violence against a woman, and only 
be condemned to pay a tine ; but if he be hungry and 
steal a loaf, or ra^ed and steal a pair of boots, all the 
majesty of the law rises up to punish such an outrage on 
property, and he is probably thrown into prison. 

As long as the laws that regulate the relations between 
the sexes are on so unequal a footing, it is useless to 
hope that public opinion will do much to alter this 
state of affairs. And on this question, at least, as much 
must be effected by public opinion acting on magistrates 
and juries as by any legislative change. 

The high importance attached by men to property is 
apparent in the fact that they have shown themselves 
much quicker and more eager to remedy the injustice of 
the law of married women's property, than any other griev- 
ance. Successive acts have been passed with the object, 
firstly, of securing to a woman the wages she has earned 
by her own toil or talent ; and secondly, of allowing her 
to hold for her own separate use and benefit any money 
that may be left her by will. 


The Married Women's Property Act of 1883 has been 
found a just and equable arrangement which has already 
conferred far-reaching benefits, and, having been passed 
with the help and good-will of many of the most able 
lawyers of the country, it is hoped that the principle it 
maintains of equal rights will serve as an excellent pre- 
cedent in other matters. 

But it leaves untouched the laws of primogeniture and 
entail which bear particularly hardly upon women ; and 
although the number of entailed estates is not so very 
great in England, the existence of such an arrangement 
fosters the idea that women are of an inferior order, and 
incapable of managing a large landed property. In 
scores of families, that are never likely to own any land at 
all, the education and prospects of the girls are entirely 
subordinated to those of the boys ; while in France, where 
entails and the rights of primogeniture were done away 
with during the first revolution, the equality of the law 
has brought about a corresponding fairness in public 
opinion, and girls are much more equally treated. 

But it is unnecessary to insist much on this griev- 
ance, as at most it touches but a limited number of 
women, and rich women have always, to a certain extent, 
been considered by custom and by law! It is much more 
important that poor women should be confirmed in the 
possession of their earnings, and be able to* J keepT a 
separate account in their own names at the savings bank, 
and this at any rate is now the law. 

The history of the passing of the Married Women's 


Property Act is worth mentioning as a curious study 
for the parliamentary student, from the number of times 
it was rejected, or talked out, or counted out, or shunted, 
to allow some measure of more importance to men to be 
passed. But the steady persistence of a determined body 
of men and women was at last rewarded in 1882 by 
success, and the Act came into force January i, 1883. 

As regards the Intestacy Laws and the injustices 
arising from them, it will be best to quote a lawyer 
learned in the question. " One of the most notorious 
cases of inequality between the sexes, and that in a matter 
where there can be no reasonable excuse for it, is in the 
law of intestacy^ Leaving out the law of the land, which 
does not affect women so often, and is not so unjust to 
them, let us see how the personal property of an intestate 
is distributed. A man dies intestate ; one third of his 
property goes to his wife, and the rest to his chil- 
dren ; or if he has no children, one half of it goes to 
his wife, and one half of it to his other relations. But if 
a woman dies intestate the whole of her Property goes to 
her husband. Her children get nothing, and in case she 
has no children, her other relations get nothing either. 
Now observe the effect. Suppose a woman marries twice 
and dies without making a will, her children by her first 
husband are dependent on their stepfather's generosity. 
All their mother's fortune belongs to him. He can leave 
them their share of it if he likes ; but if they quarrel with 
him he need not leave them a penny. The way in which 


a man's property goes upon his death without a will is 
fair enough, and should not the woman's be divided in 
the same way ? And have not women a right to be con- 
sulted as to how their property should be distributed ? 
In the same way women are unfairly treated in the dis- 
tribution of an intestate's property where he, or she, dies 
unmarried. If a single man or a single woman die leav- 
ing a father or mother living, the father gets all the money 
and the mother nothing. If the intestate have a father, 
brothers, or sisters living, but no mother, the father still 
takes all. But if he leave no father, but mother, brothers, 
and sisters, the mother only takes a share with the 
brothers and sisters. By applying the simple principle 
that the sexes should be treated with absolute equality, 
all inconvenience might easily be remedied. Whatever 
the father has the mother ought to have the same. What- 
ever is the share of the husband, that should be the share 
of the wife. No assembly which had women amongst 
its constituents would think of upholding a system in 
which this equality was not observed." 

The great grievance of taxation goes to the root of the 
whole question, and especially affects the unmarried 
women or widows who are heads of households. " Tax- 
ation without representation is tyranny," say the men in 
fine old constitutional language; but women have not yet 
got the saying applied to themselves. And on this point 
two courses are open to men. If they will not give 
women votes they might at least refuse to tax them. 


Indeed the income-tax, when first collected, was not en- 
forced on women's incomes ; but now it is only the 
political canvasser that passes by a woman's door as he 
goes from house to house. The tax-gatherer and rate- 
collector call at every house, whoever it may be owned 
by ; and the money may be spent with perfect impunity 
in ways highly obnoxious to women. 

In a country where universal manhood suffrage is the 
law, the women have the same complaint to make, that 
the money they pay for the government of their country 
is spent without their control. But in England, .where 
tax-paying and rate-paying is the basis of all enfranchise- 
ment, whether imperial or local, the injustice is much 
more flagrant. 

It is property that is represented in the person of its 
owner, and Englishmen have shown great tenacity in 
keeping hold of the principle that votes are intended for 
the defence of property, and should only be in the hands 
of the owners of property. But women's property goes 
unrepresented and consequently undefended. It is quite 
a common saying that no person is so cheated and 
swindled out of property as a woman, but the unfor- 
tunate combination of no vote, and absence of education 
in business matters, is quite enough to account for this 

. There are many excellent historical and constitutional 
precedents to justify those, who are taxed without their 
own consent and control, in refusing to pay. And a 
limited number of brave women have made use of this 


weapon, and allowed their goods to be seized and sold 
by public auction as a protest against such injustice. But 
for various reasons the example has not spread. Taxa- 
tion is so complicated and far-reaching in modern times 
that no individual can exist long without contributing 
directly or indirectly to the service of the State. 

Those who make use of this method suffer from the 
accusation that they set an example in breaking the law 
rather than in getting it altered, and though these reasons 
might in extreme cases be got over, yet as long as women 
have any hope of legislative redress, it is perhaps more 
judicious to refrain from so violent a remedy. The 
motives of those who have thus defied the tax-gatherer 
are certainly unexceptionable, and any action that draws 
attention to the whole question is probably indirectly 
useful, but on the whole the Women's Suffrage Society 
were probably judicious in refraining from taking any 
action in the matter. 

Under the heading of "trade regulations" may be 
included the whole of the barriers, legal or professional, 
or merely customary, that make it difficult for women 
to earn a livelihood. These regulations have two evil 
consequences ; in the first place, they seriously limit the 
number of employments open to women ; in the second 
place, they beat down their wages very much beneath 
the amount ordinarily paid to men for the same work. 1 

Great efforts have been made by women of late years 

1 See Appendix XI. 


to increase the number of employments open to workers 
of their own sex, but the rate at which women have 
crowded into the labour market has increased to a still 
greater extent. The disproportion between the sexes is 
undoubtedly one of the causes, and in a country where 
women preponderate by nearly a million, it is useless to 
suggest that marriage is their only calling. 

The absence of training and technical education is 
another cause of low wages to many, but nothing affects 
so much the low rate of wages and the overcrowding of 
applicants for employment, as the regulations that pre- 
vent women from following more than a few occupations. 
The Factory Acts, by limiting the hours during which 
women may be employed to the day-time, shut them out 
from book-binding, printing, confectionery, and many 
other callings. And in numerous other cases, where in 
ordinary times they get excellent employment, the 
smallest press of business leading to overtime causes 
them to be dismissed and replaced by men. 

Trades Unionism, too, tells heavily against them 
often involuntarily, but sometimes by special regulations. 
Those lucrative and close trades unions, the Bar and the 
medical profession, have struggled hard to exclude all 
competition by women ; and though the doctors have, 
from force of circumstances, been obliged to recognize 
lady practitioners, and though it is now possible for a 
woman both to obtain a thorough medical education 
and to set up in practice, it was most unwillingly that 
as much as this has been conceded. The legal profes- 


sion still remains entirely closed, though some few lady 
conveyancers find means of earning a livelihood. It is 
readily admitted that some occupations are specially 
suitable to men as others are to women ; but it is most 
unnecessary when natural causes are sure to intervene 
and restrict certain employments to one sex only, that 
men should enforce artificial restrictions that are not 
judiciously or justly conceived 

It would be childish to imagine that had women votes 
their wages would immediately rise to the level of men's ; 
the causes of the existing differences of remuneration are 
of too varied and complex a nature to allow of any 
solution so simple. But there is little doubt that enfran- 
chisement would place them in a better position for 
making terms with their employers, that it would en- 
courage the independence that does not shrink from 
seeking work far a-field, and that such restrictions as are 
really found necessary for the regulation of labour would 
be enforced with their sanction and concurrence. 

The jealousy that exists among male brejtoUwjnriers, at 
hat the^ call the intrusion of women, should be dissi- 
pated by the thought that every woman who earns her 
own livelihood, saves some man the labour of earning it_ 
for her. 

Before leaving the subject of women's grievances, it 
will be as well to say a few words in order to correct the 
impression that women regard a seat in Parliament as a 
desirable attainment, and count their exclusion from it in 


the list of their grievances. Women do not look upon a 
seat in Parliament as a principle to be fought for. They 
have observed that the working men of England have 
managed to get their wishes attended to without direct 
representation; and, valuable as working-men members 
have proved themselves to be in the House of Commons 
when legislating on labour questions, it is probable that as 
much would have been done for the classes they repre- 
sent had they failed to secure election. ^It is the vote 
that has made citizens of the working men, and it is the 
vote that is worth fighting for as representing a great 

At the same time, the rights of constituencies to 
return whom they will to serve them in the House of 
Commons should be respected; and were a woman to 
be found particularly fitted for the position, and a con- 
stituency, whether composed of men only, or of men and 
women together, chose to elect her, women would cer- 
tainly accept the duty willingly, and stand up for their 
right to serve. But they wish it to be understood that 
it is not for this that they are agitating, as they look 
upon the franchise as a far more important object to be 
attained. This point should be specially emphasized, as 
it is constantly supposed that this is the main object of 
the agitation, and that were votes granted the other 
would necessarily follow. But there is no compulsion 
on Parliament ever to go farther than it chooses. 

For similar reasons it is seldom that in England the 
expression " Women's Rights " is heard from the advo- 



cates of this movement. " Women's Suffrage " or " The 
Franchise for Women " is much more constantly made 
use of, as it defines with far greater exactitude what is 
being aimed at. They believe that the franchise is the 
key to the whole question, the real solution ot tKe^diffi- 
culty, and that once that is secured, any other rights, that 
have justice and equity to recommend them, ^will be 
naturally and easily secured. " Women's Rights " is a 
vague, indefinite term, apt to frighten unnecessarily the 
more timid spirits, while " Women's Suffrage " expresses 
clearly what is asked for, and is certainly the more satis- 
factory expression. 



IT is perhaps as well to state what political privileges 
women already possess, as it seems but a small step 
farther in the same direction to give them the parlia- 
mentary vote. 

Women householders vote for Boards of Guardians 
throughout Great Britain, but, as is well known, the 
voting papers are distributed and afterwards collected 
at the houses of the voters, so that no visit to the 
polling-booth is necessary. Qualified women can and 
do sit as Guardians of the Poor in Great Britain, but 
not in Ireland. 1 

Women householders vote for school-board members 
wherever School Boards have been established, but as 
the Education Act has not been extended to Ireland, 
here also women are without a vote. Women, whether 
married or single, may be elected to serve as members 
of School Boards. 

Women householders have votes for municipal coun- 

1 See Appendix XII. 


cils in all incorporated towns in Great Britain, with the 
exception of London, which remains at present un- 
reformed. In no case, however, do women sit as Town 
Councillors. In both the school-board and municipal 
elections, it is necessary to vote at the polling-place. 
It is well to draw attention to this fact, as a suggestion 
has lately been made, that should women be granted the 
parliamentary franchise, it would be necessary to make 
some special arrangement by which they might record 
their votes without visiting the polling-places. When it 
is considered that large numbers of women vote already 
without inconvenience, such care for their safety seems 
superfluous. Women would desire uniformity in these 
smaller electoral matters also. 

As married women are found useful on School Boards, 
it seems curious that they should have so much difficulty 
in qualifying for Boards of Guardians, as their knowledge 
of children and the management of households would 
be of special use in fitting them to look after the large 
pauper schools and the internal arrangements of the 
workhouses. Ireland should also be put on an equal 
footing with Great Britain. Women feel certain that any 
future municipal reform laws will include them, as when, 
not long since (1882), a reform of municipalities in 
Scotland took place, women householders were for the 
first time enfranchised without the smallest discussion 
in either House of Parliament. It was done as a matter 
of course. 

The Irish Municipal Franchise Bill, that has several 


times lately been unsuccessfully introduced, follows the 
Scotch Bill in assimilating the municipal franchise of 
Ireland to that of Great Britain, both as regards women 
voters and other matters. There are some few Boards 
in Ireland, such as the Belfast Harbour Commissioners 
and the Town Commissioners in several places, for which 
women have votes ; but otherwise the women of Ireland 
are treated in voting matters in a much worse manner 
than their English sisters, and there is an attempt being 
made at this present time to prevent them from voting 
even for these Boards. 

Women have occasionally received appointments from 
the Government in the shape of inspectorships ; and in 
1884 three ladies were appointed by the Local Govern- 
ment Board to sit as members of the Metropolitan 
Asylums Board. But as these posts depend on the 
good-will of the President of the Local Government 
Board, they are not numerous, and cannot be counted 
on as a right. However, as women take their place 
more conspicuously in political life, and it is recognized 
more widely what good special work they are able to 
perform, it is to be hoped that these appointments will 
become more frequent. 

It is well known that some of the public offices are 
open to women, and that large numbers earn their live- 
lihood as clerks, telegraphists, and mistresses of post- 
offices. Public school teachers also constitute a large 
body of women, but these occupations hardly come 
within the category of political rights, although they 


show that there is no hesitation in making use of women 
'as public servants. 

The constituencies have lately shown themselves in 
advance of Members of Parliament, by including women 
in the various political organizations that now exist in 
every constituency. In some few cases a rule exists 
that the persons forming the Liberal Association, or 
Caucus, must be voters, but this has been got over 
in some instances by the fact that women are muni- 
cipal voters ; and in most associations any subscriber 
to the funds is a qualified person, so that there is no 
exclusion on the ground of sex. But these associa- 
tions have gone farther, and elected women to serve 
on the Councils, that is to say, the bodies that select 
the parliamentary candidates to bring forward at the 
elections. Among Conservatives the prominence given 
to women as Dames of the Primrose League, is another 
important recognition of their political value. 



HAVING carefully stated the various arguments advanced 
in favour of Women's Suffrage, it is necessary to consider 
the different proposals that are made for giving women 

There are no less than three. There are somegersons 
_who_jna]te-4ir^ctihramiY;ersal suffrage, not, as the word is 

~~~- B ' 

constantly used, to mean manhood suffrage, but literally 
"universal suffrage " for men and women alike. 

Others, again,jwishjtp_make_voting depend on a property 
qualification, that could be held by either married or 
unmarried women, especially as, since the passing of the 
Married WpJiiers_J ) roperty Acj^of_ij38 2 , wives can jiold 
property in their 

Thirdly, there are the advocates of an extension of the 
franchise to unmarried women and widows only, following 
as a precedent the laws relating to the local franchises. 
It will be necessary to say a few words on each of these 

In countries like the United States, where universal 


suffrage exists already for men, there is only one logical 
platform to occupy, and that is to demand similar rights 
for women. Anything short of this would be to give up 
the fundamental principle of equality before the law for 
jf-both sexes. But in England the position is different. 

ae_ not got nniyprsal gnffl-pg^ qr>H i> wnnld nf 

course be quite impossible to ask for women what men 
have not yet got. It remains, then, for the advocates of 
this great and sweeping change to work for the extension 
to all men and women alike of the franchise. 

This is hardly an encouraging task, and but few have 
seriously undertaken it. In England we have such 
an engrained habit of going step by step, and even of 
experimenting in legislation, that it seems quite hope- 
less to suppose that an English House of Commons 
would go in for as much as this all at once. What 
is feared by the advocates of Women's Suffrage is, that 
by hastening the passing of universal suffrage they would 
only see manhood suffrage become law, and undoubtedly 
their position in that case would be worse than it now 
is. The most logical work to be done seems, there- 
fore, to be, to place women who are qualified as the law 
now stands, on an equality with men, in the hope that 
when the day of universal suffrage arrives, men will have 
had experience to a limited extent of the political capaci- 
ties of women, and the experiment having proved a suc- 
cessful one, they will be ready to extend the right to all 
alike. Women have entire confidence in such an ex- 
periment, and feel no doubt of its success. 


It is so difficult to tell when a question in England will 
become practical, and not merely theoretical, that it is im- 
possible to predict whether universal suffrage is likely to 
be reached in the next decade or in the next century. 
If not for a hundred years, then is the argument all the 
more urgent for making household suffrage complete at 
the present time. Besides, the moment you advocate 
votes for all, it becomes necessary to face the important 
argument that in the British Isles the women out-number 
the men by nearly a million, and that therefore all power 
would be placed in their hands. It does not do to insist 
too much on the cogency of this line of reasoning, as 
under the ballot it would be impossible to find out 
wh ether ^the women had out-voted the men or not ; but 
it is a fact that carries weight with many minds, and if, 
by enfranchising only a limited number of women, the 
position can be turned altogether, it would certainly 
seem advisable to do so. 

In the United States, as in all newly colonized countries, 
the men are numerically a larger body than the women, 
so they are not obliged to take this factor into con- 

It is not at all impossible that in the United Kingdom 
the question of universal suffrage may be indefinitely 
postponed, for there has always been a strong bias in this 
country in favour of a property or occupation qualification 
for voting purposes. If, then, the proposal to obtain 
universal suffrage is set on one side as either impracticable 


or impolitic, the question that has to be settled is where 
to draw the line. Is it easiest and best to draw the line 
between the married and unmarried women, or is it pre- 
ferable to make it entirely a question of property, and 
not allow marriage to have anything to do with the 
matter? It will be easily seen that this is much more a 
matter of expediency than of principle, although it is a 
point that is being very hotly debated at the present time. 

It is known that a large number of men are ready to 
vote, and are pledged to vote, for the extension of the 
suffrage to unmarried women and widows, while they 
have insuperable prejudices against allowing any wives 
at all to vote. It is therefore probable that it would 
be possible to pass one Bill through the Houses of 
Parliament at once, while the other would have to face 
much stronger opposition. 1 

Every man, be he Member of Parliament, or be he an 
ordinary citizen, who looks upon himself as the supreme 
head of his household, and refuses to admit the modern 
theory that the best marriages are founded on a system 
of equality or partnership, is certain to vote against any 
proposal to enfranchise his wife, even in exceptional 
cases. To a person of average intelligence the line is 
much clearer between the married and unmarried women 
than if drawn in any other place. It is the same line that 
already exists with regard to the local franchises, so that 
it has all the force of precedent on its side. 

It has been thought by many persons that the 
1 See Appendix XIII. 


passing of the Married Women's Property Act had 
so altered the position of wives, had placed them 
legally in so independent a position, that the rights 
obtained for unmarried women wouid ; as, a matter of 
course, extend to them. Accordingly many attempted 
to vote in the following municipal elections, but 
in every case their vote was disallowed as soon as 
proof was given of a living husband. Had they been 
able to vote, it would have only been logical to include 
them in the claim for the parliamentary franchise, but 
as they are shown to be disqualified by marriage, it 
seems better and wiser to restrict the demand to the 
unmarried women and widows. The hardship to these 
latter is much greater of remaining unrepresented, and 
their enfranchisement does not raise the question of 
political division in the family and consequent disagree- 

The woman who earns her own living, or is mistress 
of her own household, may be no better or wiser or 
more capable of exercising a vote than her married 
sister indeed it is probable that taken all round there 
is not much to choose in these respects between the 
two ; but it is quite certain that her vote will be more 
independent, and that she will give it more in ac- 
cordance with her own judgment. 

To return to the analogy with slaves, which, after all, 
is the truest, it would be impossible to give votes to 
slaves as long as they were in a state of servitude : set 
them free first, and then grant them votes as quickly 


ks may be afterwards. So it is difficult to imagine that 
English married women, with their very children held 
as hostages for their obedience and submission, could 
give an unbiassed vote were it granted them. The day 
of their freedom is not far off, and will be immensely 
hastened by the voting power of their freer sisters ; but 
even the Married Women's Property Act, beneficial as 
have been its provisions, is only one strand cut of the 
rope that binds them, that too being an Act of far 
greater importance to the rich than to the poor. 

All Bills and Resolutions brought into the House of 
Commons previous to 1884 were ambiguously worded, 
as none of the friends of the movement wished to 
exclude married women in so many words, as many 
urged that it would prove a bar to their future en- 
franchisement. This was all very well as long as the 
question was considered a theoretical rather than a prac- 
tical one. But when in 1884 large offers of support 
were made by the Conservative party, it was found 
absolutely necessary to define it one way or another. 
The decision was certainly influenced by the speech of 
the then Attorney-General, Sir Henry James, in which 
he declared that were the Bill passed in a form admitting 
a certain number of married women, it would encourage 
the fabrication of numerous faggot-votes, wealthy hus- 
bands bestowing on their wives just sufficient property 
to qualify them for a vote, and that the legislature should 
not be a party to such manufacture of votes. 

The Women's Suffrage Society did not exactly take 


this view of the question, as they firmly believed that 
their resolutions only referred to unmarried women, as 
only they were really qualified. They do not therefore 
admit that by inserting in 1884 the words, "Provided 
that nothing in this Act contained shall enable women 
under coverture to be registered or to vote at such 
elections," they disenfranchised one woman who would 
otherwise have been enabled to vote. They had for 
some time felt that by allowing this ambiguity to con- 
tinue, they were laying themselves open to a charge of 
dishonesty, of attempting to smuggle in a certain number 
of married women without the public really comprehend- 
ing that they were doing so. As they had never any 
intention of including married women, they considered 
it judicious to remove all doubt on the point. 

There are many firm friends of Women's Suffrage who 
think that could a Bill be framed admitting but one 
woman to vote, and that Bill could be passed at once, 
while a more comprehensive measure would have to 
wait longer, it would be advisable to take even that 
small boon, as it would carry a great principle along 
with it. This may be a somewhat extreme form of 
" opportunism," but the proverb is undoubtedly true in 
politics as elsewhere, "that half a loaf is better than 
no bread," only in politics it is advisable to add the 
proviso, that the acceptance of the half-loaf can never 
preclude the starving from afterwards attempting to obtain 

It seems obvious that the difference of opinion on 


this question should not cause any serious division 
among the political friends of women, as it is a fair 
point for discussion in Committee of the House of 
Commons, when it will be clearly seen what it is 
possible to obtain at once and what is impossible. 

If married women were be included no one would 
rejoice so much as the Women's Suffrage Society which 
supports the other course. There is no feeling of an- 
tagonism on their part to the admission of any person 
to the franchise, but as a matter of tactics they have 
considered it wiser not to " deck load " their Bill. By 
the provisions of the Bill they promoted, it is calculated 
that about 800,000 persons would be able to be regis- 
tered as voters at once, which though not a formidable 
addition to the electorate compared to the most recent, 
is yet a very large number to leave without due protec- 
tion or representation. 

The number of women householders varies apparently 
very considerably in different localities, and is naturally 
greater in the more well-to-do communities. For 
instance, it was ascertained in May, 1885, that in the 
Queen's Park Estate of the Artizan Dwellings Com- 
pany in the Harrow Road, 6^ per cent, of the 
householders were women. This is lower than in most 
districts, but it is obvious that in dwellings specially 
designed for artizans there would be a tendency to let 
them, in the first instance at any rate, to working men 
rather than to women. 


In other districts of London it has been found that 
no less than 15 per cent, of the householders are 
women. This is very much nearer the mark, as in 
1871, according to the return of municipal electors in 
the various incorporated towns of England and Wales, 
exclusive of London, which still remains unreformed, 
it was found that more than 108,000 women possessed 
the municipal franchise, being in the proportion of 
1 6 per cent, of the municipal voters. It is doubtful 
whether the counties and non-incorporated towns could 
show so many independent women, but 15 per cent. 
may well be accepted as the most accurate figure. 

Admitting that all women cannot vote, and therefore 
that, at first, a selection, more or less arbitrary, must 
represent the rest, one of the reasons for drawing the 
distinction between married and unmarried women is 
that it would take women from all the classes that now 
furnish male voters. It would be impossible to say that 
it was specially designed to include one class of women 
and exclude another, that it was for the rich and not for 
the poor. 

It would include women owning land, whether vast 
estates obtained by inheritance, or some few acres culti- 
vated by the exertions of their own family. The Return 
of Owners of Land in 1872, popularly called the New 
Domesday Book, gives the number of women landowners 
of one acre and upwards in England and Wales as 
37,806 out of 269,547 a proportion of one in seven. 
In Ireland the proportion of women landowners is some- 


what less, being one in eight. Women farmers, though 
a decreasing body in Great Britain, yet number as many as 
22,000 in England and Wales alone, so that, by including 
Scotland, the number cannot be very far short of 30,000.* 
Across the Irish Channel, where the holdings are so 
much smaller and therefore more easily managed by a 
woman, the number is very much greater, and has by 
some persons been placed as high as 60,000. All these 
would obtain votes. 

Then the women who earn their livelihood in some, 
profession, whether lady doctors, or in the various 
branches of the teaching profession, would be nume- 
rously represented. The women owning shops or carry- 
ing on businesses of every description, from the big 
manufacturer to the laundry woman, sensibly swell the 
roll. And even the working women, provided they were 
thrifty enough to qualify themselves, would find a place 
in these 800,000. As the last census 2 shows, with more 
than three million ofwomen earning their own livelihood 
a considerable increase on previous figures the number 
of female householders is probably growing larger. 

Were married women with property of their own to be 
enfranchised, they would certainly not be found among 
a poorer class of women than have just been named, 
though an attempt has been made to claim for such a 
measure a more popular basis than for the other. It is 
hardly realized by some who urge that the best women 
of the nation are being left on one side, what a large 

1 See Appendix XIV. 2 See Appendix XV. 


number of widows there are among these householders, 
women who have had all the experience of marriage, and, 
besides that, the responsibility that must always rest on 
the head of the house. 

There is a question of minor importance to that of the 
inclusion or exclusion of married women that is yet con- 
stantly discussed, and certainly cannot be omitted from 
the controversy. This is the question of the lodger 
vote. If the franchise is to follow on the same lines as 
those laid down for men, there is no question but that 
women lodgers must be included. If, on the other 
hand, it is extended merely to those women who already 
enjoy the right to vote at all local elections, the lodger 
question does not arise. But this would be to relinquish 
altogether the principle that has been fought for. 

Undoubtedly, to enfranchise lodgers, would be to place 
a vote in the hands of some of the least worthy of their 
sex, and there seem to be many persons who imagine 
that no sooner does a woman live in lodgings than her 
right to the name of an honest woman following a moral 
and praiseworthy calling is at once relinquished, and she 
has no business to imagine she has the same claim to a 
vote as a woman householder. 1 In the first place, to ex- 
clude women lodgers, on the ground of the immorality of 
a certain number among them, would be a gross injustice 
to the remainder. Secondly, it would be setting up a 
code of morality for one sex not enforced against the 

1 See Appendix XVI. 



other, a principle which has already been protested 
against in these pages, for the question of the morality of 
male-voters has never even been discussed in considering 
the question of enfranchisement. It is quite impossible, 
when votes are to be granted, to draw distinctions that 
will include all that is virtuous and exclude all that is 
vicious. If confined to women householders alone, a 
certain number of the very class sought to be excluded 
would be given votes, and even marriage could not be 
considered an absolute guarantee of character. On the 
other hand, by the exclusion of the woman lodger, a hard- 
working, meritorious class of women would not only be 
shut out, but stigmatized most undeservedly, and Women 
Suffrage would become still more than among men a 
luxury for the rich rather than a defence for the poor. It 
is possible that the Legislature may choose to mutilate 
the Bill in this respect, but it is impossible to imagine 
that women would be a party to it. 

The tendency is becoming greater in our towns, and in 
London especially, to build large blocks of houses let out 
in flats or even in single rooms, so that the number of 
persons occupying an entire house does not increase at 
the same rate as the population. But these all come 
under the heading of separate tenements, carrying with 
them the household vote, so that, although the lodger- 
vote includes an important and .hardworking section of 
the population, it is not increasing as much as the ordinary 
observer might suppose. Its exclusion would not dis- 
franchise the nomadic portion of the population any 


more than is already done by household suffrage ; but in 
any case, women claim in this matter also equality with 
men, and consider that by so doing they are ensuring the 
most equable and lasting adjustment of the question. 

The numerous points of interest and importance bear- 
ing more or less directly on the question of female 
emancipation can hardly be touched on in these pages. 
Among men it is found injurious and debilitating, 
mentally and morally to both sides, for one set of persons 
to be in complete subjection to another ; and if they 
could only be persuaded that the same thing applies to 
women, they might realize that it is not for the public 
weal that such a state of things should continue. 

Women have good reason to claim, that whereas the 
eighteenth century saw the awakening of men to en- 
lightenment and self-improvement, the nineteenth century 
has seen a yet greater change in the condition and 
education of women. They have already reduced the 
intellectual distance between the sexes, but are fearful 
lest, without some direct encouragement such as enfran- 
chisement would give, the enthusiasm for progress may 
die away at any rate be seriously checked and retarded. 

While agitating for an improvement in their political 
condition, they have not only confined their energies to 
strictly constitutional methods, but have endeavoured to 
keep clear of the more tortuous paths of political intrigue, 
believing their cause to be sufficiently strong to stand 


on its own merits. They have also considered it more 
judicious to stand aloof from all other movements, be 
they religious, political, or social, even should a large pro- 
portion of the members of the Society approve of any 
such movement. 

The ultimate political equality of the sexes is their aim 
and object, and they are willing gratefully to accept the 
help and assistance of persons of both sexes, and all creeds 
and political beliefs, while at the same time committing 
themselves as a whole to no other platform than Women's 
Suffrage. Ignorance and prejudice are, they believe, the 
two giants in the pathway to be overcome, and so sure 
are they of the logic and justice of. their cause, that if 
ignorance on the subject can be entirely removed, pre- 
judice must succumb without a struggle. 




SUFFRAGE, APRIL 29, 1873. 

" DEAR GORE LANGTON, I was much honoured by 
receiving from your hands the memorial signed by 11,000 
women of England, among them some illustrious names, 
thanking me for my services in attempting to abolish the 
anomaly that the parliamentry franchise attached to a 
household or property qualification, when possessed by a 
woman, should not be exercised, though in all matters of 
local government, when similarly qualified, she exercises this 
right. As I believe this anomaly to be injurious to the best, 
interests of the country, I trust to see it removed by the 
wisdom of Parliament. Yours sincerely, 


SPEECH OF Sir Stafford Northcote IN THE HOUSE 


ON the final debate before the second reading of the Reform 
Bill, April 7th, 1884, Sir Stafford Northcote said : 

" If you make a capable elector the test, you will find that 


you are bound to go very much further and in very different 
directions in some respects to what you have done in order 
to complete your definition. I take the case of the female 
franchise. There cannot be a doubt, if you ask who are 
capable electors, you would find it very difficult to declare 
that the females who are in a certain position as taxpayers 
and ratepayers, and who are electors for municipal purposes, 
are not capable citizens, and that they should not be included 
in the franchise. I believe that about one-seventh of the 
electors of the municipalities of the kingdom are females, 
and on the principle on which you are proceeding you will 
find it difficult to say that they are not entitled to vote." 


IN the Women's Suffrage Debate, June, 1884, Mr. Joseph 
Cowen said : 

" Some hon. members have argued that the domestic 
arena is the only one for which women are qualified, but 
they exhibit great ignorance and great forgetfulness of his- 
tory. Our parasitic conventionalities, our fantastic and 
fanciful modes of life, while professing to honour women, 
degrade them. Our very homage contains a latent irony. 
It stimulates to cultivation of woman's personal graces and 
lighter accomplishments, and to the neglect of her nobler 
powers. We surround her with a world of dolls, and then 
complainithat she is frivolous. We deprive her of the lessons 
and stimulus of practical outdoor life, and then we chide her 
with being flippant and undisciplined. But notwithstanding 
these disadvantages the number of women who have shone 
as sovereigns, or who have risen to renown in politics, liter- 
ature, art, and ordinary life, has been exceptionally large. 
Call the roll of the most distinguished rulers the world has 
known keep in mind the predominance of man over woman 
and will any one contend that the proportion of great 
queens has not been in excess of the great kings ? The three 


brightest eras in British history have been those in which 
the sceptre has been swayed by a woman -those of Eliza- 
beth, Anne, and Victoria. What does Austria owe to Maria 
Theresa, Sweden to the valiant daughter of Gustavus Adol- 
phus, and Spain to Isabella, who pawned her jewels to fit 
out a fleet for Columbus ? Can any one, in face of such in- 
stances, gainsay the fact that, the opportunity being given, 
woman, in. spite of her artificial training, has risen to the 
responsibilities of rulership ? But hon. members have 
argued that one of the first qualifications of a citizen was to 
be able to fight, and that, as women cannot act as soldiers 
or policemen, they cannot therefore be electors that as they 
cannot build ships nor make guns, nor lead armies, they 
should therefore be deprived of their civil rights. Do we 
disfranchise men because they are below the military stan- 
dard? Are the weak, the aged, and the failing eliminated 
from the register? Is it fair to apply to woman a test we 
do not apply to man ? We refuse to allow her to take a 
share in the work of the world. The enervating habits we 
have imposed on her have impaired her physical powers, and 
then we cite to her detriment the weakness which our cus- 
toms have created. Men with splendid natural endowments 
often die mute and inglorious for want of discipline and 
opportunity. Great commanders grow out of the circum- 
stances in which their lives are cast. Open to woman the 
same scenes, immerse her in the same great pursuits and 
interests, and, if she fails, then, but not till then, shall we be 
able to make a basis of argument against her on the ground 
of intellectual incapacity. Those hon. members who use 
this fighting argument forget the martial energy of the Scan- 
dinavian women. When my hon. friend the member for 
Stoke (Mr. Woodall) mentioned the names of Boadicea and 
Joan of Arc a titter went round among hon. members, who 
in their hurried march of executive life have allowed reflec- 
tion to be submerged by locomotion, thought by action, and 
ideality by a narrow and soulless materialism. But the 
names of the gifted and the lost will live, and the lessons of 


their lives will stir the pulses of mankind when all our petty 
politics are forgotten." 

Mr. Herbert Spencer ON WOMEN'S SUFFRAGB. 

" THE extension of the law of equal freedom to both sexes 
will doubtless be objected to on the ground that the political 
privileges exercised by men must thereby be ceded to women 
also. Of course they must ; and why not ? . . . We are 
told, however, that c woman's mission ' is a domestic one, that 
her character and position do not admit of her taking part 
in the decision of public questions that politics are beyond 
her sphere. But this raises the question, Who shall say 
what her sphere is ? ... As the usages of mankind vary so 
much, let us hear how it is to be shown that the sphere ive 
assign her is the true one that the limits we have set to 
female activity are just the proper limits. Let us hear why 
on this point of our social polity we are exactly right, whilst 
we are wrong on so many others. We must conclude that, 
being required by that first pre-requisite to greatest happi- 
ness, the law of equal freedom, such a concession is unques- 
tionably right and good." 


IN an article entitled "Women's Suffrage and the Franchise 
Bill," that appeared in The Pall Mall Gazette, January 14, 
1 884, Mrs. Henry Fawcett says : 

" I believe it will one day be considered almost incredible 
that there ever was a time when the idea of giving votes to 
women who fulfil the conditions which enable men to vote 
was regarded as dangerous and revolutionary. There is 
nothing apparently more subversive of reason and judgment 
than fear. The Duke of Wellington was afraid of the Re- 


form Bill of 1832, and honestly believed that it would bring 
down in general ruin property, the Crown, and the Church. 
Some of the most astute men of the world of the pre-Reform 
era were misled in a similar way. The author of the 
{ Greville Memoirs,' writing in 1831 of the scene in the 
House of Lords, when William IV. dissolved Parliament, 
speaks of the king with the ' tall, grim figure of Lord Grey 
close beside him with the Sword of State in his hand ; it 
was as if the king had got his executioner by his side, and 
the whole picture looked strikingly typical of his and our 
future destinies.' The day for these extravagant hallucina- 
tions has passed. As Mr. Bright said some time ago in 
speaking of household suffrage in Irish boroughs : ' Men 
are afraid of the first experiment of something which has 
a dangerous appearance ; but if they find that their fears 
wre altogether imaginary, they make a second experiment 
without fear.' Some people seemed at one time to think 
that the whole order of society, the very laws of nature, 
would be reversed if household suffrage were made to 
include women ; but a first experiment has been made in 
giving women the municipal and school-board suffrages. 
The fears at first expressed have proved altogether im- 
aginary ; society has not been turned upside down ; the 
possession of a vote has not made women essentially diffe- 
rent from what they were before ; we still like needlework ; 
we prefer pretty gowns to ugly ones ; we are interested 
in domestic management and economy, and are not alto- 
gether indifferent to our friends and relations ; and we ask, 
therefore, that a second experiment should be made without 


" THERE are extant many parliamentary returns for counties 
and boroughs from the earliest times which were made by 
female electors, and yet were received. Some of these are 
enumerated in Prynne's collection of parliamentary writs, 


some of later date are mentioned in the Commons Journals 
themselves, others are to be found in the repositories of the 
learned or the curious." 

" In the reign of Elizabeth there had happened several 
elections to Parliament for a borough (the more than once 
famous borough of Aylesbury), where the franchise was then 
claimed and exercised by a simple family of ' inhabitants,' 
and long continued to be so claimed and exercised. Now at 
one of those elections, the ' sole elector being a minor,' his 
mother jure representations , had actually voted in his stead 
elected two burgesses signed their indenture and as 
returning officer made the following return, which was up- 
held as good : 

"'To all Christian people to whom this present writing 
shall come, I, Dame Dorothy Packington, widow, late wife 
of Sir John Packington, knight, lord, and owner of the town 
of Aylesbury, sendeth greeting : know ye me, the said Dame 
Dorothy Packington, to have chosen, named, and appointed 
my trusty and well-beloved Thomas Lichfield and John 
Burden, Esquires, to be my burgesses, of rny said town of 
Aylesbury. And whatsoever the said Thomas and John, 
burgesses, shall do in the service of the queen's highness in 
that present Parliament, to be holden at Westminster, the 
8th day of May next ensuing the date hereof, I, the same 
Dame Dorothy Packington, do ratify and approve to be my 
own act, as fully and wholly as if I were or might be present 
there. In witness,' " etc. " On some supposed Constitu- 
tional Restraints upon the Parliamentary Franchise," by Mr. 
C his holm Anstey. 


BILL, 1871. 

" THE ancient law recognized the rights of women in the 
parish ; I apprehend they could both vote and act in the 
parish. The modern rule has extended the right to the muni- 


cipality, so far as the right of voting is concerned. . . . 
With respect to School Boards, I own I believe that we have 
done wisely, on the whole, in giving both the franchise and 
the right of sitting on the School Board to women. Then 
comes a question with regard to Parliament, and we have 
to ask ourselves whether we shall or shall not go farther. . . . 
I admit, at any rate, that as far as I am able to judge, there 
is more presumptive ground for change in the law than some 
of the opponents of the measure are disposed to own. . . . 
I cannot help thinking that, for some reason or other, there 
are rarious important particulars in which women obtain 
much less than justice under social arrangements. ... I 
may be told that there is no direct connection between this 
and the parliamentary franchise, and I admit it ; but, at the 
same time, I am by no means sure that these inequalities 
may not have an indirect connection with a state of law in 
which the balance is generally cast too much against women, 
and too much in favour of men. There is one instance 
which has been quoted, and I am not sure there is not 
something in it I mean the case of farms. ... I believe 
to some extent in the competition for that particular em- 
ployment women suffer in a very definite manner in conse- 
quence of their want of qualification to vote. I go some- 
what further than this, and say that, so far as I am able to 
form an opinion of the general tone and colour of our law 
in these matters, where the peculiar relation of men and 
women are concerned, that law does less than justice to 
women, and great mischief, misery, and scandal result from 
that state of things in many of the occurrences and events 
of life. . . . If it should be found possible to arrange a safe 
and well-adjusted alteration of the law as to political power, 
the man who shall attain the object, and who shall see his 
purpose carried onward to its consequences in a more just 
arrangement of the provisions of other laws bearing upon 
the condition and welfare of women, will, in my opinion, be 
a real benefactor to his country. Speech in the House of 
Commons, May 3, 1871. 



AT the Town Hall, Shoreditch, on October 13, 1884, in the 
course of his speech Mr. Fawcett said : 

" Search through the speeches that have been delivered in 
favour of the enfranchisement of the rural householder, and 
I say there is not an argument or an appeal that has been 
made which does not bring into striking relief the injustice 
of saying that no woman shall be admitted to any share in 
the government of her country. How often have we heard 
it said, ' Be just and fear not ? ' Does this maxim apply only 
to men ! On a thousand platforms we have declared that 
taxation and representation should go together, we have 
denounced the injustice that if war is being waged the 
agricultural labourer should have a portion of his hard-won 
earnings taken from him without any power of expressing 
his opinion on the policy for which he is taxed. Is it more 
just that women should be taxed without their consent ? 
Have they a less severe struggle for existence ? Are their 
earnings so much more easily won that increased taxation 
means for them a less keenly felt sacrifice ? There is not 
a subject which is discussed in Parliament in which women 
are not as deeply interested as men. War not only brings 
to them its burdens, but it often brings the sorrow and the 
anguish of a desolated home ; the widowed mother may be 
made childless, the sister may mourn a brother who will be 
seen no more. Social questions are probably likely to en- 
gage an increasing share of the attention of Parliament, and 
is there any social question in which women are not deeply 
concerned ? Education is not a less priceless blessing to 
them than it is to men. If the Church is to be disestab- 
lished the very intensity of the interest which you mani- 
fest shows that wishes of women on such a question are 
entitled to the fullest consideration. If restrictions are im- 
posed on their employment, are they to be deprived of all 
power of resistance if they believe that fresh difficulties will 
be thus thrown in the way of a woman earning her living by 


honest toil ? I have said I think it is not less expedient 
than it is just that the claim of women to vote should be 
considered on its merits. I well remember Mr. Henley, who 
was the very embodiment of shrewd common sense, at the 
time when the Liberal party was involved in a labyrinth of 
proposals about a ^6 rating and a 1 rental franchise, said, 
' Why don't you go to household suffrage at once ? You 
will have to go there sooner or later, and sooner is better 
than later.' These were the words of a Conservative, but 
they were the words of wisdom and sagacity. Depend 
upon it that the claim of women householders to vote will 
be so irresistible when the suffrage has been conferred upon 
every man who is a householder, however poor and unedu- 
cated he may be, that I believe the demand of women 
householders to be enfranchised will not rest until it is 
conceded. You will have to do it sooner or later, and 
sooner is better than later. No one who watches the signs 
of the times can doubt that this demand will not alone be 
urged by women. As illustrating the amount of popular 
feeling in its favour, I may refer to the fact that at so 
representative a gathering of working men as the Trades' 
Union Congress, a resolution in support of Women's Suffrage 
was, much to their credit, a few weeks since passed with 
only three dissentients." 


The Bishop of Carlisle ON WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE. 

"WHILE the number of voters was comparatively small, I 
consider that those voters were trustees for the general 
population. This was pre-eminently the case before the 
first Reform Bill, but it continued to be so after that Bill 
had become law ; there could be no justification of the 
principle of giving a vote to ^10 householders and not to 
poorer folks, except the assumption that a vote implied a 
trust to be exercised by the better educated and more sub- 


stantial class for the good of all. While this was the principle 
of legislation, I consider that there was no wrong committed 
in not permitting women to vote ; the question was simply 
one of the extent of a trust, and my own opinion used to be 
that, upon the whole, women were happier and the govern- 
ment of the country better carried on without the admission 
of women into the political arena. When, however, the 
arbitrary ^10 line was done away with, and the borough 
franchise made to extend to every man who had anything 
which could be fairly called a home, this view of trusteeship 
was immensely weakened, and, as soon as the vote is ex- 
tended beyond boroughs, as undoubtedly it will be, I con- 
sider that the notion of a man as a voter holding a trust for 
his neighbours will be well-nigh exploded altogether. I do 
not say that a vote will not be, in any case, a trust, and an 
important one, but this will not be its chief characteristic ; 
it is inconceivable that it should be. Consequently, the 
question of female suffrage assumes, to my mind, an aspect 
which it never had before. If a woman be a householder, 
stiil more if she be an employer of labour and one through 
whose employment a number of men possess votes, what is 
there in the mere accident of sex to make it right to say she 
shall have no political influence ? I do not in the least desire 
that married women should vote. This seems to me un- 
desirable and impossible. The husband and wife must be 
one in this as in other things. But when the woman satisfies 
every condition but that of sex, then it seems to me im- 
possible in reason, and I believe it will soon be impossible 
in fact, to deprive her of a vote. These, in brief, are the 
opinions which I hold on the subject of female suffrage. 
Believe me, yours sincerely, 
"A^ust 9, 1884." "H. CARLISLE. 


The Master of the Rolls, in giving judgment in the A gar- 
Ell is Case, said : 


e ' By the law of England the father has control over the 
person and education and condition of his children until 
they attain twenty-one years. It is also the law of England 
that if any one alleges that another is under illegal control, 
he may apply for a writ of habeas corpus, and have the person 
so controlled brought up before the Court. The question for 
the Court is whether the person is in illegal custody without 
that person's consent. Now up to a certain age infant chil- 
dren cannot consent or withhold consent. They can object 
or they can submit, but they cannot consent. The law as a 
general rule has fixed on a certain age, in the case of a boy 
at fourteen, and in the case of a girl at sixteen, up to which 
the Court will not, upon an application for habeas corpus as 
between father and child, inquire as to whether the child 
does or does not consent to remain in the place where it 
may be. But after that age the Court will inquire, and if 
it should be ascertained that the infant, no longer a child, is 
consenting to remain in the place where it is, then the 
point for granting a habeas corptts fails. His lordship, after 
observing that the same law was now administered by all 
the judges, said that the cases referred to as to the writ 
of habeas corpus did not at all apply to the propositions 
for which they were cited. In the present case, of course, 
they had no application, as this young lady was not away 
from her father, but under his control, and any order made 
upon this petition would be in effect against the father to 
remove her from his custody. Then, with respect to the 
testamentary guardian, he is a creature of law, and nature 
has nothing to do with him. The law of England recognizes 
the rights of the father, not as the guardian, but because he 
is the father of his children, and if recognized as their guar- 
dian merely, his rights would probably be limited. The 
father has greater rights than the testamentary guardian or 
any other guardian can have. The testamentary guardian 
is not called on to feel affection for his ward, he is not called 
on to forgive his ward, he is not called on to treat his ward 
with tenderness. He has not the rights of the father 



because he is not the father. The rights of the father are 
recognized because he is the father j his duties as a father are 
recognized because they are natural duties. The natural 
duties of a father are to treat his children with the utmost 
affection, and with infinite tenderness ; to forgive his chil- 
dren for any slip whatever, and under all circumstances. 
None of these duties are duties of the testamentary guar- 
dian. The law recognizes these duties, from which, if a 
father breaks, he breaks from everything which nature calls 
upon him to do ; and although the law may not be able to 
insist upon their performance, it is because the law recog- 
nizes them, and knows that in almost every case the natural 
feelings of the father will prevail. The law trusts that the 
father will perform his natural duties, and does not, and, 
indeed, cannot, inquire how they have been performed. The 
right of the father thus recognized is not a guardian 'j, but a 
paternal right j the right of a father because he is a father, 
which is far higher than that of any guardian, and this be- 
cause the law reposes trust in the father that he will perform 
his natural duties. There are, no doubt, cases which show 
the limits of this doctrine. If the father, by his immoral 
conduct, has become a person unfit, in the eyes of every one, 
to perform his duties to his child, and to claim the rights of 
a father towards his child, then if the child be a ward of 
Court for otherwise the Court has no jurisdiction whatever 
in such cases the Court will interfere. So, also, if the 
father has allowed certain things to be done, and then, 
by capricious change of purpose, has ordered the con- 
trary, to the injury of the child, the Court will not allow 
that capricious change of mind to take effect, though 
if the thing had been done originally, the Court could 
not have interfered. I am not prepared to say whether, 
when the child is a ward of Court, and the conduct of the 
father is such as to exhaust all patience such, for instance, 
as cruelty, or pitiless spit ef illness carried to a great extent 
the Court might not interfere. But such interference will 


EXTREME CASES. It is impossible to lay down the rule of 
the Court more clearly than has been clone by Vice-Chan- 
cellor Bacon in the recent case of ' Re Plowley ' (47 ' L. T., 1 
N.S., 283). In saying that this Court, ' whatever be its 
authority or jurisdiction, has no authority to interfere with 
the sacred right of a father over his own children] the 
learned Vice-Chancellor has summed up all that I intended 
to say. The rights of the father are sacred rights because 
his duties are sacred; but the rights of the testamentary 
guardian are legal rights, and legal rights only. With those 
sacred rights the Court has not interfered, and will not inter- 
fere, unless the conduct of the father has been such as to give 
the Court that authority. If the father has been guilty of 
gross immorality, so as to make it improper that he should 
be guardian of any child, or if he is influenced by wicked, 
causeless caprice, which must be detrimental to the interests 
of the child, then the Court will interfere to prevent contami- 
nation or injury." The Times, July 23, 1883. 


AT a meeting in St. James's Hall, London, on July 5th, 
Professor Lindsay said he had made it his business to know 
something about the condition of the poor in the great cities. 
Alluding to the labour laws, he said that women's labour 
was being crippled by laws which pressed very heavily upon 
them. The Factory Acts were gradually driving women out 
of the factories, and when they were passed, the Home 
Secretary of the day actually refused to receive deputations 
of working women because they had no votes behind them ; 
but he received deputations of working men because they 
had votes. It concerned the whole of them that women 
should have behind them that political force which was 
needed to make the expression of their mind go home. 
Women were being driven to the verge of starvation 
by the action of the law* They must live, but the ten- 


dency of legislation was against woman's work. What did 
that mean ? It meant making women sink down into a life 
of shame. In taking up this matter he felt that he was 
pleading for the working women. Women would never get 
their rights until they had votes, so that they could bring 
their influence to bear upon Members of Parliament. 

Mr. Courtney, M.P., ON WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE. 

" THIS is, I think, a strictly moderate and a Conservative pro- 
position. It goes on that principle of politics which we all 
respect, since it proceeds from experience. We have tried 
it, and what are the results ? Are they beneficial or are they 
the reverse ? Are they advantageous, whether as regards 
the constitution of the boards so elected or the character of 
the women who form part of the constituency ? If they have 
been beneficial, they are in favour of our going further. No 
one has said they have produced injurious effects in either 
direction. On those, then, who oppose the extension of the 
principle that has been so far successful, the burden is thrown 
of showing the ineligibility of women for the parliamentary 
franchise. I can conceive one reason why hon. members 
may refuse to give votes for women being members of this 
House. They themselves might be affected by the change. 
This is, however, a very small reason indeed, and I should 
like to know what is the real explanation of this singular 
anomaly that hon. members are ready to give women votes 
at elections in which those hon. members are not directly 
concerned, and yet they refuse them in cases where they are 
so concerned. I confess I should have thought that one of 
the most hazardous things possible was the giving women 
votes at elections for Boards of Guardians, except, perhaps, 
making them eligible for seats in the School Boards. One 
would have thought that the enfranchisement of women in 


respect of Boards of Guardians might have tended to thwart 
the operation of the Poor Law ; yet, as a matter of fact, a 
totally different result has been witnessed, and so successful 
has been the experiment of admitting women, and so 
charitably and admirably have they endeavoured to carry 
out the operations of the Poor Law, that the Local Govern- 
ment Board has used its power of nominating women as 
Guardians where they have not been elected. If we take the 
case of elections to the School Boards, I ask is there a single 
thing that is of more importance to the nation than the educa- 
tion of the democracy of the future ? And yet we give women 
votes for School Boards, and allow them to be elected as 
members of those boards, because they have to do with the 
education of girls. In making women capable of sitting on 
School Boards we have supplied them with a strong argument 
in favour of this motion, for the work of the School Boards 
far transcends in importance the ordinary questions that 
come before us at general elections." Speech in the House 
of Commons, July 6, 1883, 

Rev. Canon Kingsley ON WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE. 

"EVERY man is bound tobearin mind that over this increasing 
multitude of 'spinsters,' of women who are either self-sup- 
porting, or desirous of so being, men have, by mere virtue of 
their sex, absolutely no rights at all. No human being has 
such a right over them, as the husband has (justly or unjustly) 
over the wife, or the father over the daughter living in his 
house. They are independent and self-supporting units of 
the State, owing to it exactly the same allegiance as, and 
neither more nor less than, men who have attained their 
majority. They are favoured by no privilege, indulgence, or 
exceptional legislation from the State, and they ask none. 
They expect no protection from the State save that protection 


for life and property which every man, even the most 
valiant, expects since the carrying of side-arms has gone out 
of fashion. They prove themselves daily, whenever they 
have simple fair play, just as capable as men of not being a 
burden to the State. They are, in fact, in exactly the same 
relation to the State as men. Why are similar relations, 
similar powers, and similar duties, not to carry with them 
similar rights? To this question the common sense and 
justice of England will have soon to find an answer. I have 
sufficient faith in that common sense and justice, when once 
awakened to face any question fairly, to anticipate what that 
answer will be." Paper in Macmillaris Magazine, 1869. 


COMMONS, MARCH 24, 1884. 

THE Marquis of Hartington having formally moved the 
second reading of the Franchise Bill, Lord John Manners 
rose to criticise it. In the course of his speech he said : 

" But we are told that, in addition to its simplicity, this Bill 
will abolish all electoral anomalies. The Bill as it stands 
bristles with anomalies. There is an anomaly under the pre- 
sent system, and what I want the House to consider is will 
that anomaly not be greatly increased by this Bill I allude to 
the question of the female ratepayer. The present position 
of the female ratepayer with regard to the vote is anomalous. 
She votes for municipal, school-board, and poor-law elections, 
but she does not vote at parliamentary elections. That is 
the position. Now, take the case of one large and influential 
section of the female ratepayers I mean female farmers. 
The census shows that in 1881 there were upwards of 20,000 
female farmers in England. At the present moment not one 
of these has the vote for parliamentary purposes. But, then, 
the labourer whom she pays, whom she maintains, enables 


to live in his cottage, has no vote now ; but pass this Bill, 
and what happens ? Every carter, every ploughman, every 
hedger and ditcher, every agricultural labourer who receives 
wages from the female farmer, will have the privilege of 
exercising the vote ; but the female farmer who pays the 
wages, who is so important a factor in the economy of the 
parish, will remain without a vote. Will you tell me that 
that anomaly will not be greatly increased, and the sense of 
it embittered to the female ratepayer whom you are going to 
treat in this cavalier manner." 



" FEMALE employment now plays a very important part in 
English industries, and it is interesting to note the number 
of persons thus engaged and the variety of their occupations. 
But lest the figures connected with this subject and appearing 
in the census returns for 1871 and 1881 should appear to be 
misleading, we must indicate the differences which have been 
made in enumeration. For example : in 1871 there were 
7,642,000 females assigned to various classified occupations, 
whereas in 1881, with a greatly increased population, the 
whole number given was only 3,304,000. This is due to the 
fact that in the former year there were included, under 
various heads, no fewer than 4,364,000 females who no 
longer appear as being engaged in labour on their own 
account. There were in England and Wales 3,883,000 wives 
and others engaged in household duties ; 388,000 wives 
assisting their husbands in divers occupations ; and 92,000 
wives, daughters, and nieces of farmers, who figured in the 
agricultural class. After deducting these, there has been a 
great increase in the past ten years in the number of females 
engaged in various industries, while some entirely new classes 
of female labour have been created. In the Civil Service 


there are 3216 female officers and clerks, while the muni- 
cipal and other local authorities furnish employment for 
3017. There are 1660 women engaged as missionaries, 
Scripture readers, and itinerant preachers, and 3795 appear 
as nuns and sisters of charity. There are 100 law clerks, 
2646 midwives, and 35,175 engaged in subordinate medical 
service, nurses, assistants, &c. In the profession of teacher, 
females have increased enormously, the schoolmistresses 
numbering 94,221, and teachers, professors, and lecturers, 
28,605. There is thus an army of 122,846 women engaged 
in educational work. Female musicians and music-mistresses 
number 11,376 ; inn or hotel servants, 26,487 ; and domestic 
servants, 1,230,406. In hospitals and institutions there were, 
by the last return, 11,528 females engaged ; in washhouses 
and baths, 176,670 ; and as charwomen, 92,474. Some items 
will cause considerable astonishment. For instance, there 
were no fewer than 5989 females engaged as commercial 
clerks ; 171 as * pointsmen 3 at level crossings ; and 4179 as 
' warehousemen.' There were 2228 females employed in the 
telegraph and telephone services; 20,614 farmers and 
graziers ; and 40,346 engaged in agricultural employment. 
Female bookbinders numbered 10,592, exceeding the men. 
There were 1233 toymakers and dealers; 2074 needle- 
makers ; and 2503 steel-pen manufacturers. It is not a little 
curious that there were 1388 women engaged in various 
ramifications of the building trade, while 2035 were engaged 
as harness and whip makers. In the artificial flower busi- 
ness there were 4461 females ; 1887 were in the match and 
firework trade ; and 8578 in the tobacco trade. There were 
32,890 female lodging-house keepers ; 12,728 in hotel and 
public-house service ; and 3728 in the beer and cider manu- 
facture. There were also 7633 female bakers ; 13,05 1 pastry- 
cooks ; 6855 greengrocers ; and 26,422 ordinary grocers. In 
the woollen cloth manufacture the females numbered 8501 ; 
in the making of worsted stuffs, 63,801 ; in the silk goods 
manufacture, 39,694 ; and in the cotton goods manufacture, 
302,367 in the three last-named industries greatly exceeding 


the males employed. A considerable number of women 
were employed in connection with the flax, lace, and fustian 
manufactures. Of workers and dealers in dress there were 
no fewer than 616,425. Female farriers numbered 3645 ; 
brush and broom makers, 4185; japanners, 1539; cane 
workers, &c., 2525 ; wood turners and box makers, 2595 ; 
paper makers, 8277 ; paper-box makers, &c., 8718 ; coal 
miners, 3099 ; lead miners, 1903 ; brick and tile makers, 
2738 ; earthenware* and glass manufacturers, 21,490. There 
were 25,722 women shopkeepers ; 17,660 costermongers, &c. ; 
1278 pawnbrokers; and 1403 rag gatherers and dealers. 
Engaged as mechanics or labourers, but not further specified, 
there were 17,769 women ; while considerable numbers were 
employed in the apparently unfeminine occupations of nail 
and tin making, metal burnishing, bolt, nut, rivet, and screw 
making. Altogether a large percentage of the female popu- 
lation of the country were engaged in some kind of active 
employment." Times. 


IN the debate on Women's Suffrage in the House of Com- 
mons, June, 1884, Colonel King- Harman said : 

" The hon. member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) used 
an argument which I think a most unworthy one, namely, 
that the franchise is not to be extended to women because, 
unhappily, in this country, as in all others, there are women 
of a degraded and debased class. Because there are 40,000 
of them in this metropolis alone, the remaining women who 
are pure and virtuous are to be deprived of the power of 
voting. But will the hon. member guarantee that the 
2,000,000 men the Bill proposes to enfranchise, and whom 
he is perfectly prepared to see enfranchised, shall be pure 
and perfectly moral men ? Will he ensure that amongst 
these 2,000,000 men there are none who are living on the 
wages of sin of these unfortunate women ? Will the hon. 


member propose a clause to exclude from the franchise those 
men who lead into vice, and retain in vice and degradation, 
these unfortunate women ? Will he exclude every man who 
seduces a poor girl and brings her into this miserable class ? 
No ; men may sin and be a power in the State, but when a 
woman sins, not only is she to have no power, but her whole 
sisterhood are to be excluded from it. I consider the argu- 
ment used by the hon. member an unworthy one, and one 
which will not bear the test of examination." 


ACTS, C. D., 55, 79. 

Corrupt Practices, 57, 63. 
Criminal Law Amendment, 73. 
Factory, 55, 79. 
Lord Brougham's, 16. 
Married Women's Property, 45, 


Registration of Voters, 57. 
Agricultural Labourers, 49, 50. 
Arguments, 19-58, 
Associations, Liberal, 15, 86. 


Ballot, 37, 39, 42, 44, 62, 89. 
Bankrupts, 45. 
Beaconsfield, Earl of, 16. 
Beer-interest, 40. 
Boards, Irish, 85. 

Metropolitan Asylums, 85 
Bribery, 57. 

Bright, Jacob, M.P., 61. 
Bryce, James, M.P., 69. 


Church and State, 36, 41. 

Church of England and Marriage, 72. 

Civil Servants, 12. 

Claims of Constituents, 27. 

Commissioners, Belfast Harbour, 85. 

Irish Town, 85. 

Conservatives, 16, 38, 41, 59-63. 
Constitutional Government, 20. 

Methods of Agitation, 


Conveyancers, Women, 80. 
Co-operation, 38, 49. 
Criminals, 50. 


Deceased Wife's Sister Bill, 56. 
Delegated Representation, 27, 50, 62. 
Desertion of Children, 71. 
Disorder at Elections, 43. 
Divorce, 70-72. 
Doctors, Women, 79, 96. 

Education, Com 

Compulsory, 51. 

of Women, 22-24, 2 %> 2 9> 

40, 48, 49. 
Educational Franchise, 23. 

Election Expenses, 56, 57. 
Employment of Women, 79. 
Endowments for Girls, 25. 
Entail, Law of, 74. 
Equality, 65, 69, 74, 100. 
Examinations, 23. 


Farmers, Women, 57, 96. 
Feminine Charm, 28. 
Feudal Law, 31, 32. 
Forsyth, Mr., 16. 
Fox, C. J., 15. 
Friends, Society of, 33. 


Gladstone, W. E., 16, 45, 55. 
Grievances, Abolition of, 37. 

Discussion of, 45, 5-82. 

Guardians, Poor Law, 13, 14, 68, 83. 


Guardianship of Children, 67-70. 
Gurney, Russell, 16. 


Home Life, 28, 29, 36. 
Home Rulers, 59, 60. 


Iddesleigh, Earl of, 16. 
Illiterate Voters, 23. 
Income Tax, 36. 
Inspectors, 51, 85. 
Intellectual Capacity, 22. 
Interest in Politics, 34, 43. 
Intestacy Laws, 75, 76. 
Irish Episcopal Church, 33. 

Municipal Franchise, 84, 85. 
Isle of Man, 13. 

James, Sir Henry, M.P., 92. 
Judicial Separation, 46. 


Landowners, Women, 62. 
Lawyers, Women, 79, 80. 
League, Primrose, 15, 86. 
Leave well alone, 50, 51. 
Liberals, 17, 39, 59, 61. 
Liberty of Intercourse, 24. 
Lodgers, Women, 97-99. 

I2 4 


London Municipal Reform, 13.. 


,, Women Householders, 95. 

Lunatics, 50. 

Sanitation, 36. 

,, Compulsory, 51. 


Savings, Married Women's, 73. 

Manhood Suffrage, 51, 63, 77, 87, 88. 
Manners, Lord John, 16. 
Mason, Hugh, M. P., 17. 
Meetings, 18, 43, 44. 
Members of Parliament, Female, 80, 

School Boards, 13, 83, 84. 
Sedentary Occupations, 20. 
Separate Class, 46. 
Slaves, 41,65, 66, 91. 
Social Questions', 36, 52, 53. 
Society, Women's Suffrage, 92, 94, 100. 


Soldiers and Sailors, 20, 21. 

Midwifery, 32. 
Mill,J. S., 16,61.^ 
Quotation from, 18. 
Minors, 50. 
Municipal Elections, 30-42, 83, 84. 

Solidarity in Voting, 37. 
Speakers on Women's Suffrage, 59. 
Sphere, a Woman's, 32, 52. 
Statistics, Municipal, 41, 42. 
Number ot Voters, 94, 95. 

,, Owners of Land, 95. 


Parliamentary, 60. 

Nonconformists, 40. 

Stuart, Prof., M.P., 55. 

Novelty of Voting, 41. 

Nursing Sick and Wounded, 22. 


Tailoring, 32. 


Taxation, 12, 76-78. 

Obsolete Arguments, 22. 

Refusal to Pay, 77, 78. 
Teachers, Female, 13, 24, 85, 96. 


Technical Training, 25, 29, 79. 
Telegraphists, 85. 

Petitions, 18, 43. 

Tellers of Divisions, 59. 

Philanthrophy, 53. 

Tenement-houses, 98. 

Physical Strength, 19-22. 

Tests, Unfair, 20, 41. 

Policemen, 12, 20, 21. 

Town Councils, 13. 

Politeness, Loss of, 30, 31. 

Councillors, 27. 

Population, Increase of, 51. 
Disproportion, 79. 

Trade Regulations, 78. 
Unions, 79. 

Power of Women, 34. 

Trustees, 45. 

Primogeniture, 74. 

Professions for Women, 13, 96. 


Property, Defence of, 72, 73. 
), Representation of, 77. 
Protection of the Person, 72, 73. 
Public Offices, Women in, 85, 86. 

United States, 89. 
Universal Suffrage, 37, 63, 87, 88. 
University Members of Parliament, 23. 
Unmarried Women, 87-94. 


Unprotected Females, 46, 47. 
Unskilled Labour, 29. 

Queen's Park Estate, 94. 



Vaccination, 36. 

Rates, 37. 

Compulsory, 51. 

Reform, 63. 
Reform Bills 
1832 n, 41. 

Venality, 35. 
Victoria, Queen, 51. 
,, ,, Government of, 14. 

186711, 16. 

1884 16, 17, 52. 


Religious Difficulties, 38-41. 
Responsibility, 34, 35. 

Widows, 97. 
Woodall.W., M.P.,6o. 

Revolutionary Ideas, 39. 
Movements, 34. 

Woodstock, Election of, 15. 
Worms, Baron de, M.P., 60. 

Rights, Women's, 66, 81, 82. 

Wyoming, 44. 

In uniform crown 8vo volumes, bound in red cloth. 

Price One Shilling Each. 


By the Rt. Hon. 

P.C., K.T., G.C.M.G., Late Governor-General of Canada. 

TIMES, May 18, 1885. "At this moment, Lord Lome intervenes especi- 
ally opportunely with his contribution of a. volume on the subject (of Imperial 
Federation) to Mr. Sydney Buxton's ' Imperial Parliament Series.' " 

CANADIAN GAZETTE, May 21. " Renders the small volume now 
before us one of the most weighty and most useful contributions to the discussions 
of this question which has yet been made." 

PALL MALL GAZETTE, May 19. " Lord Lome's treatise on Imperial 
Federation is sensible and to the point. . . . The little book is full of topics for 
thought. It deals with one of the most important questions of future- politics, 
and we cordially welcome its appearance at the head of a series that we hope will 
be a widely circulated political library for the people." 




PALL MALL GAZETTE, July 24, 1835. " The volume is a welcome 
contribution to a much debated question. 1 ' 

LIVERPOOL MERCURY, July 23. " The volume is also written in a 
calm, judicial spirit, and although warmly advocating its particular proposal, may 
be said to be entirely free from party bias. It well deserves the wide circulation 
it has already attained." 

WESTERN DAILY MERCURY, July 14. "As a clear and concise 
statement of the reasons in favour of a system which is certain to come pro- 
minently forward whenever the question of Parliamentary Reform is again 
opened, Sir John Lubbock's book may be warmly recommended." 






ECHO, Aug. 11. " The work the authors have produced is a marvel of con- 
densation. . . . We would heartily commend the volume. 1 ' 



DAILY NEWS, August 17, 1885." The authors have grappled with 
this important question most skilfully, with the result that they have produced 
a little book of some 130 pages in which a vast amount of information on the 
whole subject of local administration and local taxation is presented in a most 
readable form." 

DAILY CHRONICLE, August 29. "That the existing evils (of Local 
Government) are great is acknowledged on every side ; but few are ac- 
quainted with the details, and fewer still have any clear and definite ideas as to 
the nature of the changes required. This deficiency of information renders the 
new volume of the Imperial Parliament Series especially valuable." 

LIVERPOOL MERCURY, August 8." To-day comes the neat little 
volume on Local Administration. It is produced by a triad of authorities. 
Mr. Wm. Rathbone, M.P., whose interest in this question has made him one of 
the chief instructors on the Liberal side, has been joined by Mr. Albert Pell, 
M.P., who is the ' best man ' of the Conservatives on such matters, and by Mr. 
F. C. Montague, who is a statist of ability. The proofs have been read by 
Major Craigie, the farmers' friend. In consequence, a work as impartial as could 
be written has been produced." 



Ey the Rt. Hon. 






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